Athens mulls options for defense boost

Athens mulls options for defense boost

Faced with growing Turkish aggression in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece is keen to move forward with plans to boost its defense capabilities with talks between Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and French President Emmanuel Macron so far having focused on the acquisition of two state-of-the-art Belh@rra frigates.

The key obstacle to a deal, which would secure the delivery of the first frigate in 2024 and the second after that, is the price tag of 3 billion euros, given Greece’s current fiscal constraints.

Greece’s coffers will allow it to pay off the frigates in annual installments of no more than 300 million euros, Kathimerini understands.

The advantages of the French vessels are the technological superiority they would give Greece over the countries in the region, including Turkey, which is constantly ratcheting up its territorial claims and expanding its plans for hydrocarbon exploration, notably with its accord with Libya which encroaches on Greece’s continental shelf.

The negative aspect of the French deal is that the vessels would be constructed entirely in France, depriving Greek shipyards of lucrative work. 

In the meantime, Greece’s priority is to ensure that its existing navy and air force fleets are ready to head off a possible challenge by Turkey. With this in mind, missile procurements are under way and deals are in the works for the support of weapons systems for fighter jets and helicopters as well as drones. 

Another priority for the Hellenic Navy is upgrading four MEKO-type frigates for which there is American interest. This foresees an upgrade of the four frigates by Lockheed Martin and the construction of four new MMCS frigates by 2025. 

This scenario would foresee the upgrade of existing vessels and the construction of new ones at Greece’s Elefsina Shipyards at a cost of 4 billion euros. A second phase foresees the possible acquisition of four Israeli-designed corvettes in cooperation with Syros Shipyards.   

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