France and Greece are discussing a major arms package but no deal has been concluded, a senior French government official said Sept. 1. The package could initially include two frigates, Rafale combat aircraft and other weapons, including air-launched missiles, according to reliable sources.
By Giovanni de Briganti
The talks received a new impulse after French President Emmanuel Macron in mid-August publicly stated his support for Greece’s position in the increasingly tense situation with Turkey over drilling rights and territorial waters in the Eastern Mediterranean. France also deployed two Rafale fighters and a frigate to Cyprus in a show of support for Greece.
Greece is looking for ways to quickly boost its military capabilities, and according to some local reports is expecting the French side to present formal offer in the coming weeks for the delivery of two frigates and 12 to 18 Rafales. Greece was discussing a Rafale buy in 2008, but dropped that plan in the wake of the 2007 financial crisis.
The French official would not comment media reports that Greece has already received a proposal for the sale of Rafales, and that a more detailed offer was expected by the end of September as part of a wider, ‘strategic partnership’ agreement.
“There is no agreement as reported in the Greek press. We are discussing several subjects, and we will make an announcement when we have something to say,” the French official said in a Sept. 1 telephone interview.
The official would also not confirm talks on the sale of two Naval Group frigates, which Greece was ready to order in early July before it suspended talks after receiving a US offer four Littoral Combat Ships at a comparable price.
“We are in talks with France, and not only with France, in order to increase our country’s defense potential,” Reuters reported Tuesday quoting a Greek government official. “Within this framework, there is a discussion which includes the purchase of aircraft,” adding that no final decisions had been made.
According to sources, a major element in the package being discussed are long-range, stand-off cruise missiles like the ship-launched MdcN/Naval Strike Missiles as well as additional air-launched Scalp cruise missiles, to reinforce Greece’s strategically important attack capability.
Both missiles are made by MBDA, as are other weapons that Greece would like to acquire, including ground-based air defense and modern air-to-air missiles like the new-generation MICA-NG. The company would not confirm a report that a sales team is due to visit Greece this week to discuss the sale of missiles.
Greece also wants to buy at least two frigates, but with a heavier weapon suite than that proposed by Naval Group for its new FDI-class frigates. Greece wants MdCN cruise missiles and Aster air-defense missiles, which with other systems would boost their cost to over 2 billion euros when training and infrastructure costs are added, according to Greek media. READ MORE AT DEFENCE-AEROSPACE