US offers Greece frigate deal in competition with France

US offers Greece frigate deal in competition with France

US offers Greece frigate deal in competition with France

The U.S. State Department announced on Dec. 10 the approval of the potential sale of naval frigates to Athens to challenge a deal announced between France and Greece in September.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency said it had approved the sale for $6.9 billion of four Lockheed Martin combat frigates, known as multi-mission surface combatant ships, just 10 weeks after Athens signed a memorandum of understanding with Paris on a similar deal for French-built ships.

The agency also approved a $2.5 billion Lockheed program to upgrade Greece’s MEKO class frigate, including adding and upgrading weapons systems and electronics.

The announcement suggested that France faces a fresh commercial arms deal threat after the United States wrested away a massive submarine contract for Australia in a shock announcement on September 15 that ruptured relations between Washington and Paris.

France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia and labelled it a "stab in the back" by an ally when Canberra ditched a longstanding deal worth billions of euros to buy conventional French submarines for US nuclear-powered vessels.

Two weeks after that, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis set a memorandum of understanding with President Emmanuel Macron for France to buy three and possibly four French Belharra frigates for three billion euros ($3.5 billion).
The French ships would be built by Naval Group for delivery beginning in 2024.

In the France-Greece deal, the two sides had until the end of this year to reach a final agreement.