The Greek government (2019-present) has selected the competition for the selection of the construction of four new frigates for the Hellenic Navy that will be accompanied by the modernization of four existing German MEKO frigates already available to the Hellenic Navy and the provision of an interim solution (two frigates) until the four MEKO frigates of the Hellenic Navy are modern.
Proposals for the new frigates have been filed by France (FDI Belh@ra), by USA (Multi Mission Surface Combat), Spain (F110), Netherlands (SIGMA), Germany (A-200 + A-300).
by Thanos S. Chonthrogiannis
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Recently the UK submitted its own proposal to the Hellenic Navy which is very tempting. This includes the construction of four Arrowhead 140 frigates (Type 31)/ Iver Huitfeld, with their construction taking place entirely in Greece together with the modernisation of the four MEKO frigates of the Hellenic Navy. At the same time, the UK’s proposal for an interim solution includes the leasing of two Type 23 frigates until the Hellenic Navy’s MECΟs are modernised.
The Royal Navy has the second largest fleet after the US and has reserves available to offer as an interim solution.
Arrowhead 140 (Type 31) frigates cost £250m without the armament and depending on the armament chosen their displacement moves between 6000tons – 7000tons. Due to the low cost and high volume of displacement that can be over-equipped, the Arrowhead 140 Frigates are highly competitive.
On the other hand, the Netherlands has also made an extremely competitive proposal through the construction in Greece of four frigates of the type of Ship Integrated Geometric Modularity Approach (SISMA). Of these four Frigates the two will be SIGMA 11515 HN Standard Version and the other two will be SIGMA 11515 HN Extended AAW Version. These Frigates were designed by DAMEN Shipyard Group exclusively for the needs of the Hellenic Navy.
The Dutch proposal includes the modernisation of Greece’s four type of MEKO frigates, provides flexible financing for the construction of the four new frigates and the concession of two Dutch Navy frigates as an interim solution as well as the concession of a specific number of offshore patrol surface vessels.
So far, the Netherlands and the UK have taken the lead in the competition, followed by Germany. The US proposal does not qualify because of the inadequacy of the proposed project (MMSC), but the US should be happy for the UK to win the competition given that the UK is their most loyal ally and the weaponry that the Arrowhead 140 will carry will be American with multiple benefits again for the US defence industries. France’s proposal presents a ship very under-equipped and slow in relation to the needs of the Hellenic Navy.
The German proposal is also tempting because it includes the construction of two A-200 and two A-300 frigates, the modernisation of the four type of MECO frigates of Hellenic Navy which are German and in addition offer to undertake the construction of two type 214 submarines, but without mentioning anything about an interim solution. The Hellenic Navy already has four type 214 submarines and with the construction of two more will increase its strength to six of this type.
The problem with Germany is that Greece-Germany relations are being tested because of Germany’s supportive attitude towards Turkey due to Germany’s delivery of six Type 214 submarines to Turkey. A matt move on the part of Germany would be to freeze the export of weapons systems to Turkey as the US did with the F-35 and the six Type 214 submarines to be bought by Greece.
Our view is that the Greek government should enter delicate manipulations because there is always a risk that the case of choice will result in an international competition. At the same time, the Greek government will have to disconnect the choice of the four frigates with their construction in Greece, due to the delays that the project will suffer. The Germans know better than their experience in the construction of the Type 214 submarines in Greece, so they do not propose the construction of his proposal to take part in Greece.