The Hellenic Republic Ministry of National Defence has apparently decided to spend €500 million to upgrade its four Hydra-Class MEKO frigates. If the decision stands, it will be a departure from the Hellenic Navy’s plans to upgrade two of the four frigates. The upgrade will allow the 3200-ton frigates, commissioned in the 1990s, to remain operational for 15 more years. Spending €500 million on an upgrade means that the Navy has about €1.5 billion – the sum could be raised to €1.7 million. A decision on the acquisition will be taken before the end of summer. It is a fairly large expenditure item for Greece’s defense budget, although a small amount for the firms that have submitted the proposals.
If the decision stands, it will be a departure from the Greek Navy’s plans to upgrade two of the four frigates. But it fits with the plans of the National Defense General Staff to have a deployable fleet of 12 frigates and 6 corvettes in the period to 2034, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and the US have already expressed interest in Greece’s corvette procurement program. Recently, Germany and Israel have joined in, offering the Sa’ar 6-class corvette, ordered by Israel 2015, built in German shipyards; the 4 units were delivered in 2020 and 2021 and have been fitted with Israeli weapons systems.
The Hydra class are a group of four frigates in service with the Hellenic Navy. They were designed in Germany and are part of the MEKO group of modular warships, in this case the MEKO 200 design. The programme was authorised in 1988 and partially paid for with FMS aid and previsioned for the commission of six vessels. The first ship was built in Germany and commissioned in 1992 but suffered a serious fire while working up near Portland, England. Repairs were completed in 1993. The Greek built warships were delayed due to financial problems on the part of the Hellenic Shipyards completing in the late 1990s which also led to limiting the total number of vessels to four.
The implementation of the so-called “Mid-Life Modernization program” will allow the upgrading of the electronic combat systems, sensors and radars, which are necessary to increase the combat power of ships. According to reports of Greek defense magazine “PTISI” the upgrade will include 12 basic subsystems of the ship including a new CMS, a new 3D radar, a new navigation radar, new intra-communication systems, new ESM, Link-16 tactical data link network and the installation of a new Laser warning system. The shipyard that will win the contract for the construction of 4 frigatesas the interim solution will also modernize the 4 meko class frigates to ensure commonality between the systems of the new frigates and the modernized meko class frigates.