France and Greece make progress on the sale of 2 frigates Belh @ rra

According to our colleague Xavier Levasseur, from Navalnews.com website, the possible contract between France and Greece regarding the sale of 2 Belh@rra frigates to the Hellenic Navy is progressing quickly, and in the right direction. Indeed, the French authorities and their Greek counterparts would work well beyond a simple sales contract, but on the integration of Greece into the FTI program, an approach which should, obviously, satisfy Athens, which must count on a certain form of budgetary return to be able to finance the program. This approach also paves the way for subsequent orders, knowing that the Hellenic Navy's need for frigates is between 6 and 8 units, to be able to cover all sensitive areas in the Aegean Sea.

Let us recall that negotiations around the sale of French frigates to Greece began more than 10 years ago, initially around the FREMM program, but that the latter always came up against a problem. financing problem.

We also learn that the Greek FTI will be equipped with an additional Sylver70 system to receive 8 MdCN cruise missiles, in addition to the 16 traditional Aster 30 anti-aircraft defense missiles on this class. This will also be the only difference with the 5 frigates which will equip the French Navy, which will be devoid of these cruise missiles, the spaces being as always “reserved” for a later modification. We can, in this respect, question the relevance of the French choice, the addition of a Sylver70 with its MdCN missiles representing little more than €35 million per building, or €175 million for the 5 units on a program of €3,9 billion (an increase of 4,4%), while the operational profit would be very significant, increasing the number of French frigates with land-based strike capabilities from 6 to 11. Once again, the French Navy is forced to limit the armament of these vessels which are already too few in number, as was the case of the FLF without VLS although planned, the Horizon capable of receiving 2 additional Sylver50s or 16 Aster15/30 missiles, and FREMMs that can accommodate up to 2 additional Sylver50/70s.

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The deployment of 8 MdCN missiles on each of the Greek frigates will significantly strengthen the country's response capabilities

The MdCN missile will represent a valuable asset for Greece in the face ofa Türkiye increasingly powerful militarily. By its grazing trajectory in the terrain, and its stealth, the French missile is designed to thwart modern anti-aircraft defense systems, which will allow Athens to compensate, at least partially, for the entry into service of the Turkish S400s, by a significant response capacity. Remember that once the S400s are in service, the Greek air forces will be threatened even over a significant part of Greek territory.

Interestingly, in the NavalNews article, it is indicated that the construction of the Greek FTIs would only take place after those of the buildings expected by the National Navy. It is true that the latter would have had to face significant difficulties if Greek production had had to postpone the delivery of some of the French FDIs. But this also suggests that the 2 buildings will be built in France, and not on site, although Greece has production capacities. In fact, the integration of Athens into the program will probably be at the level of equipment, knowing that several French companies have subsidiaries in the country, such as Thales which manufactures SeaFire radar equipping these frigates.

Finally, in parallel with the Belh@rra program, Athens would also be interested in acquiring the new French F21 heavy torpedo. Because if the Hellenic Navy has 4 Type 214 submarines and 2 to be delivered acquired at a high price from the German TKMS, these do not have modern heavy torpedoes today.

We can only hope that the two countries will find a satisfactory modus operandi to make these negotiations a success, both commercial and operational.

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