Greece ready to acquire 2 French FDI Belh@rra if it finds the financing

According to the site Naval News, citing a Greek site, the Greek authorities have sent France a letter of intent relating to the acquisition of 2 Belh@rra frigates optimized for anti-aircraft defense for the Hellenic Navy. The negotiations on this subject, which have been underway for many months in Athens, seem to have settled all the details of configuration, equipment, deadlines and crew training, with the exception of the crucial point of financing.

Indeed, to be able to launch the acquisition, the Greek authorities must obtain financing of more than €1 billion, so as to smooth the acquisition over its Defense equipment budget of €600 million per year, already significantly reduced by the modernization of its F16s. The negotiations therefore now seem to focus on this crucial point, with Greece asking France to find a solution to be able to trigger the order.

It must be said that the Hellenic Navy has a pressing need for these multi-purpose vessels, the format of which corresponds perfectly to its needs, and which are particularly efficient in the key areas of anti-aircraft defense with its 16 to 32 Aster 30 missiles and its Thales radar. AESA SeaFire, and in anti-submarine warfare, with some of the most efficient detection equipment on the planet. Indeed, if they are acquired, the Greek Belh@rra will have to quickly keep in check the Turkish naval and especially air power, with nearly 350 aircraft including 250 F16s, while Ankara has increasingly pressing territorial claims in Aegean Sea and Eastern Mediterranean.

As was the case for the financing requested by Egypt backed by the purchase of Rafale additional, financing this Greek request should not, in fact, pose a problem for France. Indeed, the Belh@rra, at least in their French configuration, are only composed of a few imported systems. Therefore, if the buildings are actually built in Lorient by Naval Group, the budgetary return recorded by the State would exceed 75%, without taking into account compensation linked to employment. Risk-taking would therefore be extremely limited for the State, a payment guarantee of 25% sufficient to cover the entire effective risk. Furthermore, following the successes of 2018 regarding the “CaMo” program in Belgium, the NH90s in Spain, and in 2019, the remarkable contract for the design and construction of 12 new generation mine warfare vessels for the Belgian navies and Dutch, a new contract with Greece would sign a fundamental dynamic in Europe concerning the acquisition of French Defense equipment, after nearly 2 decades of scarcity. Let us also recall that Greece has expressed interest in acquiring 2 of the French Navy's Light Furtive Frigates that France could soon put on the market.

Intense American lobbying on this issue, very hostile to the French offer, with an offer based on the second-hand Adelaide frigates potentially acquired from Australia, backed by the acquisition of Standard SM2 and Harpoon missiles from the States -United, undoubtedly explains the discretion of Naval Group in this matter, in a country where Defense issues have very significant political weight.

Let us therefore hope that soon, an announcement from the French and Greek governments will sign a new period of collaboration between the two countries!

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