Athens abandons Paris and to defend itself from the Turks it will buy American

(To Tiziano Ciocchetti)

Just over a year ago, the Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos signed a letter of intent for the acquisition of two French frigates, designed by Naval Group. Only that he had also taken care to specify that there were still many points to be defined before the contract became final.

With a length of 122 meters, a width of 18 meters and a displacement of 4.500 tons, the frigates are equipped with the new radar Seafire and an electronic warfare suite developed by Thales.

Using a digital architecture that would allow them to continuously adapt to technological developments, they are armed with EXOCET MM-40B3C anti-ship missiles, ASTER-15/30 surface-to-air missiles, MU-90 antisubmarine torpedoes and two 76/62 guns. mm.

Indeed, it was reported that the Greek Navy wanted to have a land attack capability (Country Attack) that the French program did not allow since initially it was not planned to equip them with naval cruise missiles (SCALP NAVAL). Strangely, the integration of this capability on this type of frigate was not contemplated (and financed), although it could have been of interest to the French Navy.

Although the letter of intent between Athens and Paris was still in place, it would seem that the American Lockheed Martin interfered in order to blow up the signing of the contract.

In November 2019, the Greek press reported that an American group was ready to sell, for less than two billion euros, four MMSC-type frigates (multi-mission surface fighters), or ships derived from the FREEDOM class (photo) developed as part of the US Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Program.

In September of this year, in the midst of a crisis with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis confirmed the goal of the four frigates, but without specifying the model.

In fact, the Greek daily Kathimerini confirmed, on 6 November last, the rumors that had been circulating for some time, namely that Athens was in favor of an intergovernmental agreement to procure four MMSC-type frigates, with the further advantage of upgrading the four ships of the class. MEKO is a participation of Greek shipyards in the American FFG (X) project, which aims to build ten CONSTELLATION-type frigates, based on the Italian / French FREMM project.

"The plan essentially provides for the establishment of a naval force by 2030, which, with the delivery of the MH-60R antisubmarine helicopters (Photo), will have a predominantly American orientation ", emphasizes Kathimeriní.

As a reminder, the Trump administration approved, in July 2019, the potential sale to Greece of 7 MH-60 SEAHAWK helicopters (produced by Sikorsky, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin), for a total amount of $ 600 million.

However, given the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Greek Navy wants to move quickly to modernize its attack capabilities. In this regard, the American counterpart assured that the MMSC would be delivered two years before the French frigates.

An MMSC frigate can deal with different types of missions: from air defense to electronic warfare, including ASuW and ASW operations.

It is equipped with Mk-41 vertical cell launch systems, containing RIM-162 surface-to-air missiles (Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles, ESSM) and RGM-84 HARPOON Block II ER.

The Greek choice, albeit conveyed from overseas, aims not only at strengthening the Navy in a relatively short time (providing it with Deep Strike) but also to constitute an integrated anti-aircraft / anti-missile defense system.

Photo: US Navy