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Politics

Greece Getting Big Guns, French Frigates, US Warships Too

ATHENS – After picking France over the United States to acquire warships, Greece’s New Democracy government has found a way to satisfy everyone: buy from both sides.

After the Defense Ministry said the $3.51 billion purchase of three French Belharra frigages was final and would be soon ratified by the Parliament controlled by the government, the US State Department okayed a $6.9 billion sale of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant ships.

That’s in addition to $2.5 billion worth of upgrades to the country’s existing Meko Class ships, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

France’s Armed Forces said that a contract with Greece for the supply of the French frigates had just been signed.

“Since we have been in discussion with the Greeks, the American offer is no longer on the table… We also signed the contract with the Greeks. It was initialled a few days ago,” the ministry told AFP.

That was in reference to the French offer picked over the United States’ Lockheed although the US and Greece had renewed a military cooperation agreement that includes more American bases in Greece.

But the US won too as Greece’s deal with the American side includes associated missiles, sonars, weapons, spares and technical support, the Pentagon said, according to Reuters.

The Pentagon said Lockheed Martin was the prime contractor for the ships giving Greece a way out of a political dilemma although at a big price.

The potential package includes Phalanx missile upgrade kits to protect against cruise missiles, MK 49 Guided Missile Launcher Systems, new sonars and support.

Raytheon Technologies, Lockheed and BAE Systems are the prime contractors for that sale, the Pentagon said, the report added.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale although the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded.

Earlier, when France beat out the US, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said it didn’t affect tightening relations between the countries.

The 2.9 billion euro ($3.38 billion) pact will see Greece buy three French frigates with an option for a fourth after earlier making a 2.5 billion euro ($2.92 billion) deal to buy 18 French-made Rafale fighter jets, 12 used and six new and then upped it to 24 jets.

The French agreement also has a mutual defense binder in which either country would come to the other’s aid if attacked by a another, seen as protection for Greece against Turkish provocations.

“The US and Greece enjoy a robust defense relationship rooted in our shared values,” a State Department spokesperson told Greek media ate the time, using typical diplomatic boilerplate to saying anything indelicate.

“We strongly support Greece’s role in creating stability in the region and look forward to continuing to work closely with Greece to advance our shared goals for peace and prosperity in the region including through our robust relationship with the Hellenic Navy,” the spokesperson said.

Mitsotakis said the deal won’t affect those talks with the US. The agreement is “not antagonistic” to the Greek-US relationship, he said, citing how “France stood by us during difficult times in the summer of 2020”, a reference to Turkey’s challenging of Greek territorial rights in the Aegean Sea.

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