ΑΤΗΕΝS — Up against European challengers bidding to sell Greece more warships as part of a growing naval and military arsenal against provocations from Turkey, American defense company Lockheed Martin has revised its offer.
The New Democracy government is due to make a decision for new frigates and modernizing existing ships by the end of the year, which has brought a fierce competition between Greece's allies.
Besides worries about Turkey violating Greece's waters – and air space – there is also concern about a growing presence of Russian submarines in the Mediterranean and migrants coming from Africa, said Defense News.
The Hellenic Navy wants to buy four new frigates, upgrade the combat capability of its four current Hydra-class MEKO 200 frigates and receive some kind of interim capability to operate in the interim, the report added.
Lockheed is working with the US Navy to try to win the bid and the site said that the American side feels it has the best offer because of advantages from its Aegis Combat System and have Greek companies do most of the construction.
“One of the big benefits of the US offer, as compared to all the other offers, is that this is being done through the U.S. government Foreign Military Sales process. Greece has transacted somewhere near 2,000 Foreign Military Sales cases with the U.S. It’s a very well-established process, it’s a very transparent process,” Jon Rambeau, Lockheed’s Vice-President and General Manager for the Integrated Warfare Systems and Sensors business line, told the site.
Five other bids from European shipbuilders appear to be still in contention, but he said Lockheed’s proposal is the only one that is part of an official Foreign Military Sales program, with cost and schedule guarantees written in.
In June, Naval News reported that Greece named the six bids on its short list: the Netherland’s Damen; France’s Naval Group; Italy’s Fincantieri; the United Kingdom’s Babcock; Germany’s Blohm+Voss, and Lockheed.
Rambeau said those bids were given an initial ranking by Greek officials, but that order was not shared with industry.
GUARANTEES SEEN DIFFERENCE
But he said if the US team wins that the US Navy would act as “the custodian of Greece’s money” and “will contract with Lockheed Martin, and they will negotiate with us just as hard as if they were procuring this for the U.S. government. And at the end of the day, if there’s money left over in that case, by law the United States will have to return that money back to Greece.”
The Greek military has a half-century history of dealing with the US defense supplier and Joe DePietro, Vice-President and General Manager for Naval Combat and Missile Defense Systems told the site in June that Greece needs improved anti-submarine warfare and expanded-area air defense capabilities.
When it comes to modernizing the MEKO frigates, Lockheed is offering to install an Aegis-based combat system that would integrate 1990s-era ships with new frigates, a fleet of MH-60R helicopters, the Hellenic Air Force’s F-16s and more.
Rambeau said the ability to create a link across a network with the rest of Greece’s existing and future aircraft and weapons systems “has been a consistent theme as we think about the upgrades.”
The U.S. Navy would be the one offering the interim solution, likely a few decommissioned ships from the service that could temporarily be given to Greece, until the MEKO upgrades are complete, the report added.
Lockheed has been talking to the Skaramangas, Greece, shipyard about working together to build some of the four new frigates there, investments in facilities there for the frigate program and other works.
In August, analysts not identified told the news site Breaking Defense it's an arms race to be the provider with a decision due in the autumn as Greece and Turkey backed off confrontations during the summer to prevent scaring tourists.
The Greeks “want to get the most they can … and they have some demands, and they’re difficult,” Guy Stitt, President of AMI International, a naval analytics firm tracking and analyzing ship procurements in dozens of countries said.