Greece due to receive three French-built frigates to boost its navy

Greece due to receive three French-built frigates to boost its navy

The delivery of three new Belharra-class frigates to the Greek Navy, set to enhance the country’s defensive capabilities and strengthen defence cooperation with France at sea, is reportedly progressing as planned and within the expected timeframe.

Two of the frigates have been launched and are currently undergoing sea trials before being handed over to Greece, while the third had its keel attached just this April.

Frigates will not be ready for service until 2025 and 2026.

Parts of the ships are being built at the Salamis Shipyards, on the Greek island of Salamis, with the advanced defence technology primarily sourced from France.

The frigates will be equipped with Exocet anti-surface missiles, Aster anti-air missiles, RAM missiles, and antisubmarine torpedoes, along with helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles. Additionally, they will feature the latest radar technology, eliminating the need for a 360-degree rotation.

"It's a fixed panel, it means that the radar doesn’t rotate, it means that at every moment, every second, the crew sees everywhere,’ said Cyrille Brett from the Naval Group.

The ships are being promoted as the first fully digital frigates.

And since France's Naval Group is sharing most of its technology with Salamis Shipyards, it is expected to usher in a new era for Greek shipbuilding.

‘’Using this knowledge, I think Greece can turn the page and become a very important defence shipbuilder," the president of Salamis Shipyards told Euronews.

"I think we are going to see new projects from Salamis Shipyards and I hope from other shipyards that are going to be very important for Greece, and also for Europe and international shipping," Dr Goerge Koros added.

Greece signed the contract for the three ships with France in September 2021 at a cost of around €3 billion. At the same time the Franco-Greek defense pact was signed, including a mutual defense clause triggering support if either nation faces aggression from a third party.

Tensions with Turkey

The frigates are part of a strategy to boost Greece's defence capacities in the Eastern Mediterranean amid recurring tensions with long-time foe Turkey.

Tensions have increased in recent years over gas exploration rights in the Eastern Mediterranean and waters between the two countries.

Both countries have been at loggerheads for decades over a long series of issues, including territorial rights in the Aegean Sea, maritime and aviation boundaries, and minority rights.

Greece has already bought 18 French Rafale fighter jets and plans to purchase another six to modernise its armed forces.