American defense contractor Lockheed Martin is up against European challengers who will be bidding to sell Greece more frigates as part of a growing naval and military arsenal against provocations from Turkey.
Analysts not identified told the news site Breaking Defense that it's an arms race to be the provider, with a decision due in the autumn as Greece and Turkey have mostly 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 told the site.
It's a long list of likely bidders, AMI data showed, including the Dutch shipbuilder Damen with its Sigma 11515 frigate, the German firm Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems offering MEKO A200 or MEKO A300 frigates, British firm Babcock and its Arrowhead 140 and the Naval Group out of France offering the FDI/Belharra frigates.
The Italians are also jumping in, Fincantieri proposing its FREMM design, which the US Navy so impressed it was chosen to be a model design for American frigates in the Constellation class.
All the competitors’ offers include varying levels of Greek industrial participation as the country's defense construction sector had waned, as well as proposals for interim capabilities, the report added.
It's been more than half a century since Greece picked American ships despite the close military ties between the countries that has stepped up, Greece wanting to counter any Turkish designs on sovereignty, including waters between them.
In an interview with the site, Lockheed executive Joe DePietro said that by working the acquisition through the US Navy – European companies will contract directly with the Greek government — the deal will essentially be guaranteed by the US government.
“The US government is going to oversee and certify the work that Lockheed Martin and the Lockheed Martin team does, and then they’re going to deliver that capability,” he said. “That really lowers the risk, obviously, for the Hellenic Navy,” he also added.
Stitt and his team agreed with DePietro’s suggestion that the FMS element is going to be Lockheed’s business advantage against the Europeans.
“The Greeks will be able to select the weapon systems and sensors of their choosing and enjoy the sustainability that (Naval Sea Systems Command) and the US can put behind it for the life of this ship,” said Tony Beitinger, Vice President of Market Intelligence at AMI. That is “far beyond” the sorts of warranties or protections private shipbuilding firms usually offer, he added.
Bryan Clark, a fellow at the Hudson Institute and retired Navy officer, told Breaking Defense the US ships have air defense and anti-submarine warfare capabilities would enable it to protect civilian vessels and guard sea lanes near Greek ports.