Instead of Naval Group’s Belharra-class frigates, it was reported by local media over the week-end that Greece will instead buy four Meko 200 frigates, made by Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, which also supplied four older frigates that Greece now plans to upgrade to a similar equipment standard.
There has been no official confirmation that the order will go to Germany, but a spokesman for France’s Naval Group told Defense-Aerospace.com on Sunday that “Regarding Greece, we have no information on the four frigates.”
If confirmed, this would be a major setback for France, as Greece in October 2019 had signed a Letter of Intent for the acquisition of two Belharra frigates, also known as Frégates de Défense et d’Intervention (FDI). French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly announced signature of the LoI in an October 10 post on her Twitter account.
J’ai signé avec mon homologue grec une lettre d’intention, portant sur le projet d’acquisition par la Grèce de deux frégates de défense et d’intervention (FDI) : une frégate agile, combattante, qui équipera notre marine nationale à partir de 2023. 2/2 pic.twitter.com/7wylRQJSk7— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) October 10, 2019
Germany will also reportedly supply four Type 214 diesel-electric submarines armed with heavyweight torpedoes, whose procurement was authorized by the Greek Parliament during the spring.
“Specifically, Greece will acquire (…/…) 4 new frigates, while refurbishing 4 existing ones; 4 Romeo naval helicopters; antitank weapons for the Army; torpedoes for the Navy and guided missile for its Air Force. It will also add 15,000 professional soldiers to its armed forces over the next five years,” the Greek daily Ekathimerini reported Saturday citing Mitsotakis.
The four “Romeo” helicopters are Sikorsky UH-60R Seahawks, according to Greek news reports.
Mix of new and used Rafales
While the total number of Rafales to be initially bought by Greece has been agreed at 18, the exact split between new and second-hand aircraft remains to be determined. France offered eight new and 10 used, while Greece prefers six new and 12 used so as to reduce costs; details will be finalized during contract negotiations that will continue during the autumn.
The precise split between new and used aircraft will make little difference to France, and new-build replacements for the used aircraft will be tacked on to the remaining orders, providing the French Air Force with additional new-production aircraft while boosting Dassault’s order backlog. The company and its subcontractors are awaiting a French government decision to advance the order of the final Rafale production batch as part of its Covid-19 support package for industry.
The second-hand Rafales will be French Air Force F3-O4T variants, which was delivered to the French forces between late 2012 and 2018, according to the Paris website “Air & Cosmos.” They are fitted with the RBE-2 AESA radar and will be armed with Scalp-EG cruise missiles but not yet with the Meteor beyond visual range air-to-air missile.
Meteor, however, will equip Greece’s new Rafales, which will be delivered to the current F3-R production standard, and will subsequently no doubt be retrofitted to the second-hand aircraft.
The 18 Rafales will replace the older Greek Air Force Mirage 2000 that have not been modernized, while a second order will probably follow to replace the upgraded and new-build Mirage 2000-5 aircraft that Greece ordered in September 2004.
As we reported in December, Greece modernized its Mirage 2000 fleet for a first time in 2004, upgrading ten of them to the new 2000-5 Mk2 standard, and also ordered 15 additional new-build aircraft to the same Mk 2 standard – the final Mirage 2000s produced.
The Mirage 2000-5 Mk.2s have a more powerful RDY-2 multifunction radar, MICA air-to-air missiles, additional air-to-ground capabilities with the SCALP-EG cruise missiles, a new self-protection system, new inertial navigation (INS) and an in-flight refueling capability using a pod.