France has signed an agreement with Greece on the latter’s purchase of FTI multi-mission frigates (Frégates de taille intermédiaire, or Belharra), Florence Parly, defense minister of France, announced Friday.
“France has signed a letter of intent with Greece on its purchase of two frigates of defense and intervention (FDI),” Parly announced on her twitter account.
The frigates in question are Naval Group-manufactured FTIs featuring an inverted bow design with a length of 122 meters and a displacement of about 4,250 tons. Each of these vessels cost about €750 million ($824 million).
In an interview with Greek newspaper last month, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, Greek Defense Minister, had stated that talks with Paris were still in "very early stages” and the only sure thing is that “France wants to sell and Greece wants to buy the frigates.”
Following the deal signed for two frigates, Greece would have an option for additional 2 vessels. The Hellenic Navy ships would be built as series production right after the first ship for the French Navy is completed.
The government-to-government deal, with no competitors from foreign countries is said to be a case of “French- FMS” (similar to the US foreign military sales program).
Greek Navy will reportedly be allowed to join the French FTI program if the deal fructifies, similar to CAMO program where the Belgian Army joined a French Army program for armored combat vehicles once a corresponding contract was signed.
Today’s deal is in line with the French government’s recent push for increased cooperation with Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean region. French President Emmanuel Macron recently told former Greek Prime Minister that he was ready to send frigates to patrol in the Eastern Mediterranean where Cyprus has large gas fields in its EEZ and where Turkey has commenced drilling with a naval ship in tow.
In addition, Parly also announced that the French navy will begin receiving first of its FTI frigates in 2023. Naval Group was awarded a contract to build five FDI frigates for the French Navy in 2017.
The medium-sized "digital warship" comes equipped with Thales SeaFire AESA radar. The boats can be deployed in missions such as anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, anti-aircraft warfare, patrol, maritime security, control of exclusive economic zone (EEZ), asymmetric warfare, and special forces activities.
The warship is fitted with the latest-generation fixed-panel AESA radar system integrated in a Panoramic Surveillance Intelligence Module (PSIM), a complete sonar suite, long- and medium-range anti-air missiles and a comprehensive electronic warfare suite.