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Politics

Greece Closes On Picking Winning Bid for New Corvette Warships

ATHENS – Greece, which has been building its arsenal and foreign alliances to counter Turkish provocations, is set to decide the winner of a €1.5 billion ($1.6 billion) contract to acquire three Corvette warships, with an option for a fourth.

“The final decision on the corvettes is imminent, and both proposals are extremely positive for the Navy’s needs,” said Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, commenting on a bidding process that has generated considerable interest.

According to Breaking Defense, the two finalists are Italy’s Fincantieri with its FCX30 design, which is currently being used by Qatar as the Doha/Al Zubarah-class ship, and France’s Naval Group with the Gowind, which is being used in Egypt as the El Fateh-class ship.

It is clear that Greece is taking its defense seriously and making significant investments in its military capabilities. The use of advanced technology and high-quality equipment will enable Greece to better protect its borders and interests. As the final decision on the Corvette warships draws near, it is important that the Greek government chooses wisely to ensure that the needs of the Navy are met and that Greece continues to strengthen its position in the region.

According to reports, Fincantieri has signed an agreement with Greece’s ONEX Shipyards & Technologies Group to establish a Corvette manufacturing line and provide life-cycle support at Elefsis Shipyards. “We like to localize production as much as possible. We are accustomed to going far from home and sharing our know-how and interacting with SMEs and local shipyards,” said Fincantieri CEO Pierroberto Folgiero in a recent interview with Breaking Defense.

In response, Hellenic Shipyards has announced its support for Naval Group’s offer by building Gowind vessels in Greece. The French shipbuilder has also pledged to “ensure economic benefits in Greece of at least 30% of the program value,” in line with a “ramp-up” of operations across the country, supported by Naval Group Hellas, a new Greek subsidiary.

Naval Group has strong ties with the Hellenic Navy, having secured a contract in March 2022 for the construction and supply of three defense and intervention frigates (FDI HN), plus one optional hull. Additionally, Naval Group, Thales, and MBDA have submitted a bid for the midlife upgrade of Hydra-class MEKO 200 designed frigates.

According to Pat Bright, Senior Analyst at AMI International, a US Naval market intelligence agency, the overall designs and capabilities of the FCX30 and Gowind are “fairly similar.” As Greece prepares to make a decision regarding the Corvette warship contract, it is clear that the country is committed to strengthening its naval capabilities and building partnerships with global defense companies.

According to Pat Bright, Senior Analyst at AMI International, a US Naval market intelligence agency, the capabilities of the Gowind and FCX30 frigates are “relatively closely matched.” However, he noted that the Gowind offer “appears” to be valued at $433.9 million per hull and includes “an attractive financial proposal with long-term deferred payments.” Naval Group did not publicly release per hull costs when announcing its final bid.

Previously, French business newspaper La Tribune published cost estimates of Fincantieri’s bid, stating that the Italian offer of four FCX30 frigates amounted to “about 2 billion euros.” La Tribune also noted that the cost of the four ships of the Doha class sold to Qatar in 2017 totaled €3.2 billion, excluding weapons.

While Breaking Defense could not verify the figures, they suggest that if accurate, the original FCX30 offer is cheaper than the Gowind price by approximately 66 million euros ($70.27 million) per hull. According to Bright, “If Naval Group wins, the first Gowind will be built in France with the three remaining hulls in Greece. But the way we understand the Fincantieri bid is that it is based on two hulls plus one option, all built locally… that’s pretty significant in itself.”

As Greece prepares to make its decision, cost will undoubtedly be a key factor. However, the decision will also have important implications for Greece’s naval capabilities and partnerships with global defense companies. It is crucial that Greece chooses wisely to ensure that its needs are met and that it can continue to defend its interests and borders effectively.

Fincantieri CEO Pierroberto Folgiero sees the Greek competition as a potential opportunity to unlock regional sales. “Absolutely [selection of the FCX30 design by Greece would be] validation of our uniqueness that will open more and more doors,” Folgiero said. “Because again, everyone that is spending wants the best with respect to schedule and budget…I believe that it would be a very, very important point in the roadmap of this expansion of international business.”

As global defense companies continue to compete for contracts, it is clear that winning a contract from a country like Greece can have significant implications for future sales and partnerships. Fincantieri is committed to providing the best possible products and services while ensuring that they meet their clients’ schedules and budgets. As Greece prepares to make its decision regarding the Corvette warship contract, it will be interesting to see which company ultimately comes out on top and what implications that decision will have for the future of the industry.

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