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Politics

German-Designed Turkish Submarines Sink Greece’s Silent Edge

ΑΤΗΕΝS — Germany's sale of submarine technology is giving Turkey an edge over Greece in a potential sea showdown and taking away the major advantage that Greece's navy had, a report in The Economist magazine said.

The construction of the first six German-designed Reis-class submarines at the Golchuk Naval Shipyard in Izmir is causing anxiety in Greece – where German submarines had been a major weapon against any Turkish provocations.

“The Piri Reis will join the fleet next year; five other Reis-class subs will follow in successive years. It is a triumph for Turkey’s navy – and a headache for Greece,” the Economist report said.

Greece's German-made submarines had proved almost undetectable and set off jitters in Turkey's Navy but Germany is selling to both sides after blocking Greece's earlier demand for sanctions against Turkey.

The key to the Reis is its innovative propulsion system, which does not require air to run the diesel engine, letting submarines stay underwater for 20 days, compared to two to three days with conventional diesel engines.

It also makes the subs virtually silent, unlike noisy nuclear submarines, whose reactors cannot be switched off, leaving Turkey and Greece at equal odds with underwater warfare.

The new submarines could be used by Turkey for espionage operations in Greek or Cypriot territorial waters, while they can also be equipped with missiles capable of destroying Greek anti-submarine infrastructure, the report added.

Many other European Union countries agreed not to sell defense equipment to Turkey – which also bought a Russian-made S-400 missile defense system that could be used against Greece and undermines NATO, the defense alliance to which Greece and Turkey belong.

But Germany, home to 2.774 million people of Turkish heritage, refused to give up its lucrative arms dealing with Turkey, which is paying $3.5 billion for the submarine co-production program.

Germany sells its subs and production capabilities to virtually anyone who will pay for them, more than 120 sold to 17 countries since the 1960s, irritating NATO which has done nothing about it, as it did nothing about Turkey's prodding.

France, Greece and Cyprus want the EU and NATO to resist Turkish aggression, while Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain seek to avoid conflicts within the alliance,  said Kathimerini.

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