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Greece orders three defence and intervention frigates from Naval Group and MBDA

The FDI-HN frigate is marketed for export under the name Belharra (photo: Naval Group)
The FDI-HN frigate is marketed for export under the name Belharra (photo: Naval Group)
GREECE / FRANCE. Nikólaos Panayotópoulos, Greek Minister of Defence, initialled on Tuesday 28 September 2021, with the CEOs of Naval Group and MBDA (missile manufacturer), a memorandum of understanding for the order of three defence and intervention frigates (FDI-HN - Belharra). A fourth is optional. The contract with the two French groups will also include their maintenance and associated armaments. Athens could also acquire three Gowind corvettes (plus one as an option).

The 4,600 tonne, 120 metre long ships, equipped with ultra-modern radars supplied by Thales, are valued at €3bn (€5bn with the three Gowinds). They will be built in France in Lorient.

Paris was competing with the United States (Lockheed Martin), the Netherlands (Damen), Germany (TKMS) and Italy (Fincantieri) for this tender launched by Athens in 2020 for four frigates and the renovation of its Hydra frigates.

Amplification of military cooperation between Greece and France

"This is a historic announcement, which confirms the exceptional defence cooperation between our two countries. The construction by France of this state-of-the-art equipment is part of an ambitious European defence. Our two navies will be equipped together with these first-class frigates, modern and powerful combat ships", commented Florence Parly, French Minister for the Armed Forces. The same ships will equip the French Navy from 2024 and the Hellenic Navy from 2025. "This choice will enable both navies to benefit from exceptional interoperability, and also paves the way for enhanced cooperation, offering in particular the prospect of significant synergies in the field of support," said a statement from the French Ministry of Defence.

As part of a more global strategic partnership between the two countries, Greece had already ordered, in September 2020, eighteen Rafales (plus an option on eight more) for a price of €2.5 billion. And at the beginning of September 2021, it had declared that it wanted to acquire six more. The day before the frigate contract was signed, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Greek television that he wanted to increase military cooperation with France.

Facing tensions with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Athens has decided to strengthen its weapons program.

Eric Apim

Tuesday, September 28th 2021

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