According to Greek news broadcasters OnAltert and OPEN TV reports said Tuesday that Hellenic Navy plans to purchase intervention frigates, also known as Belharra, from France. Greece maintains close ties with France and the acquisition of French frigates is the largest weapons program ever undertaken by its armed forces. According to media reports, the total cost amounts to 5 billion euros ($6.05 billion). The program covers the construction of four multifunctional frigates along with their equipment and also encompasses the modernization of the old frigates and their technical support. Of the four new frigates to join the Greek Navy, it is expected that two will be built at Greek shipyards. The decision to purchase Belharra frigates was also influenced by the recent Greek acquisition of Rafale fighters from France.
In 2019, Greek Defense Minister Niko Panagiotopoulos and his French counterpart Florence Parly have signed a letter of intent to open discussions for Greece to procure two defense and intervention frigates, also known as Belharra, worth some €750 million apiece and built by France’s Naval Group. France has signed a letter of intent with Greece on its purchase of two defense and intervention frigates. There was still “a long way to go” before the final configuration of the frigates for Greece is agreed, which signals that they are not likely to be identical to the ones being built by France’s Naval Group for the French navy. The Belharra was designed for the French sea service, which has ordered five copies. The steel cut for the first of the five ships will take place on Oct. 23 with delivery of the first scheduled for 2023.
Belharra is Naval Group’s answer to navies looking for a compact frigate to perform a large range of missions, stand-alone or within a task force, for high sea duration missions or for shallow water operation in congested and contested operational environment. Belharra benefits from Naval Group centuries of experience ensuring unmatched stealth and outstanding detection capabilities. It features a robust platform, resilient systems and recoverability features that will enable it to retain operational capability following damage. This new frigate features high level capabilities in anti-air, anti-surface, anti-submarine, and asymmetric warfare domains as well as the access to deep strike capability. Equipped with a cloud-type distributed digital architecture, it is scalable, resilient and provides the services required by today’s sailors on demand.
She will have a length of 122 m, a beam of 17.7 m, and a displacement of 4,460 tons. The ship will have a crew of 110 people as well as an air crew detachment of approximately 15 people. She will also have a flight deck and one hangar to accommodate one unmanned VTOL aircraft or one NH-90 naval helicopter. The frigates can be armed with one Oto Melara 76mm Super Rapid gun (mounted in stealth cupola), two 20 mm remotely operated automatic cannons, 8 Exocet MM-40 Block 3 anti-ship, two Sylver A50 8-cell VLS (Vertical Launching System) for MBDA Aster 15/30 surface-to-air missiles and two dual torpedo tubes with EuroTorp MU90 Impact torpedoes. She will be powered by a combined diesel and diesel (CODAD) propulsion system. She will have the capability to reach a top speed of 27 knots (50.0 km/h) with a maximum cruising range of 5,000 nmi (9,300 km) at 15 knots (27.8 km/h).