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Politics

After France, US’ Lockheed Martin Wants to Sell Warships to Greece

WASHINGTON – The US defense contractor Lockheed Martin wants to get in the act of Greece building an arsenal against Turkey, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s government making deals to get French warships and fighter jets.

The American firm and the Greek Navy are talking about a proposal to buy the US-built warships, said Defense News, as a further bulwark against constant Turkish provocations and violations of Greek waters and airspace.

Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Navy together offered the official US bid to the Hellenic Navy in December, in a letter of agreement that expired March 17 but has been extened to Sept. 18, the report said.

That was designed to see if an agreement on the purchase and acquisition could be made after Greece’s deals with France

Greece made a $3.51 billion deal to buy three French Belharra frigates and the  US State Department ok’d a $6.9 billion sale of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships, in addition to $2.5 billion worth of upgrades to the country’s existing Meko Class ships, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported in December, 2021.

In January, With six of 24 French-made Rafale fighter jets arriving in Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at a ceremony welcoming them that they are a deterrence against Turkey, which repeatedly sends fighters into Greek air space.

“The new fighters make our air force one of the strongest in Europe and the Mediterranean, and seal the Greek-French defense agreement,” he added, citing an agreement between the countries to come to each other’s aid, said Kathimerini.

It comes at a cost of 3.3 billion euros ($3.74 billion) with Greece also planning to buy three French Belharra frigates at a cost of 3-5 billion euros ($3.4-$5.7 billion) to put more warships in the seas where Turkey has employed its own between the countries.

Defense News said that Greece originally laid out a multi-pronged approach to modernizing its surface fleet: buying new frigates and corvettes, upgrading its four Hydra-class MEKO frigates, and obtaining used surface ships to operate while the MEKOs are in their mid-life upgrade program.

The official US pitch was for Lockheed Martin to upgrade the MEKOs with the company’s suite of products centered around the Aegis Combat System; the Hellenic Navy to buy some number of the company’s Hellenic Future Frigate, also centered around the Aegis system and designed specifically for Greece’s mission needs.

LOT OF FIREPOWER

The first of which would be built in the U.S. and later ships built in Greece; and the US Navy to provide four decommissioned warships to serve as a temporary gap-filler, the report added.

Lockheed Martin Vice President and General Manager for Naval Combat and Missile Defense Systems Joe DePietro told Defense News his company is pitching the Hellenic Navy to buy more warships.

DePietro said in a Feb. 17 interview Greece originally wanted as many as four to six frigates and four to six corvettes and that it was made clear Greece wanted its domestic shipbuilding industry involved.

Naval Group, which builds the Belharra frigates, will construct Greece’s ships on its production line in Lorient with its own predominantly French supply chain, the report added.

Lockheed Martin said it sees an opening to push for ship modernization and even ship construction with Greek shipbuilders and suppliers after the Greek industry had fallen on hard times.

The US company is trying to persuade Greece to buy a slightly different surface combatant than the Hellenic Future Frigate — either the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship with lethality and survivability upgrades to fill the corvette piece of the plan, or the larger Multi-Mission Surface Combatant.

That’s now being built for Saudi Arabia that the HF2 design was derived from — and could be ready to start production right away at the Hellenic Shipyard outside Athens, the report said.

Lockheed said it has already had conversations with George Procopiou, who last year purchased the Hellenic Shipyard in Skaramagas, just west of Athens.

“We’ve met with him now five times, and we got to the point where, at the last sit-down, I was walking him through the module breakdown of the construction of an LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) or an MMSC (Multi-Mission Surface Combant) parts, material flows, what would be done in the yard and how we would like optimize the yard,” DePietro said.

DePietro said Lockheed Martin hasn’t signed formal agreements with the shipyard, but Elefsis Shipyard, near the Hellenic Shipyard — does not have a clear owner and can’t take part in the talks.

It remains unclear if Greece is interested in Lockheed’s proposals, with talks being extended but no agreements reached.

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