L’agreement for the sale of three French frigates to Greece “has just been signed”, announced Saturday the French Ministry of the Armed Forces, deeming null and void the competing offer presented by the United States. “Since we have been in discussion with the Greeks, the American offer is no longer on the table […] In addition, we signed the contract with the Greeks. It was initialed a few days ago, ”the Ministry of the Armed Forces told Agence France-Presse.
The United States gave the green light on Friday to a possible sale of four frigates to Greece, raising fears of new tensions with Paris after the Franco-American crisis around a mega-contract for submarines to Australia. The State Department said in a statement it had pre-approved plans to sell four combat frigates and their equipment to Athens worth $ 6.9 billion.
The announcement came less than three months after the conclusion of the AUKUS security partnership between the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom which had torpedoed the French submarine contract in Canberra.
A fourth optional frigate
It also follows the conclusion of a frigate agreement worth some 3 billion euros between France and Greece. Paris assured to have been informed this time of the American announcement and relativized the scope. “The Americans had warned us that this announcement was going to come out,” said the Ministry of the Armed Forces. “They wrote to us, told us: under our good relations, following the AUKUS problem, we warn you. “” There is no inclination [de leur part] to go further, ”says the same source in Paris. “What happened there was just the result of an administrative process [d’offres] that it was apparently complicated for them to stop from an administrative point of view, ”added the ministry.
The United States also approved the modernization of the Greek MEKO-class frigates, for an amount estimated at 2.5 billion dollars. The State Department specifies that the contract, in both cases, “will be awarded to the winner of an international tender” for the modernization of the Greek navy. According to the Franco-Greek agreement, announced with great fanfare on September 28 in Paris, three defense and intervention frigates (called Belharra for export) must be built in France by Naval Group, in Lorient (West), for be delivered to the Greek navy in 2025 and 2026. The prior agreement also covers an optional fourth frigate.