Our navy facing an impasse?  A harsh reality

Our navy facing an impasse? A harsh reality

Our Navy, and the renewal of its aging fleet of surface units, has been a hot topic of discussion in all defense circles for several years. Historically, Greece has always had a strong navy, able to fight and win no matter the circumstances. While the current force structure provides for a powerful fleet, which will theoretically consist of 12 frigates and 6 corvettes.

It is not very difficult to understand that this is impossible to implement with today’s data. There was a fund of €5.5 billion, of which €3.3 billion was committed for the purchase of 3 FDI HN frigates (€3.05 billion plus reservations). The remaining 2.2 billion are very marginally sufficient (we will probably need at least 500 million more, or 6 billion) to complete the purchase of 3 modern corvettes and the modernization of 4 MEKO200HN.

It must be said that those who continue to “push” or to hope for the 4th FDI HN, must already realize the infeasibility of the market, as much as one wishes as a means of defence. But what is the dead end of the PN, of which our title speaks? But precisely the impossibility of acquiring a large fleet of large surface units, which we need for a presence both in the Aegean and in the eastern Mediterranean/Cyprus.

Someone may say that the solution lies in second-hand ships. This is not the case, because the non-existence of second-hand ones on the international market is now visible. The British Type 23 frigates are not an option, some are retired, others will remain in service due to delayed replacement, and there is no incentive to give them to us. Adelaide frigates that once belonged to the Australian Navy and were once thought to do nothing of substance, now proudly serve the Chileans, and even have SM-2 missiles with a range of 160 kilometers. The French La Fayettes are not available, as they are currently carrying out missions there for the Navy, for which there is not yet a replacement.

REVIEW: What happened to the Adelaide frigates? Did we reject them out of hand, and if so, why?

For those who are “worried”, even retired US Navy LCS are not available, because even if the Navy asks for them, they will be on a waiting list behind Taiwan, Ukraine and Egypt . After all, it’s an open secret that the US Navy is concerned after the HF2 backlash and poor cooperation in the S-70B/B6 helicopter affair (also recording “disparaging” behavior on the part of of the Greek part).

And the Ticonderoga cruisers, about which FLIGHT has written so much, are valuable as the main asset of a large fleet, but they cannot play the role of a “frigate”! Other existing frigates such as Australian MEKO200ANZACs, Canadian Halifaxes, Italian Maestrales will not be released, or when they go on sale/concession they will be so old that they will make no difference to the Greek S’s.

In a few words, options used for PN are complete. Maybe start the “patents” the US Navy is considering in the Pacific (e.g. amphibious ships that will drop arrays of Marine NSM anti-ship missiles and strike out of nowhere), maybe re-modernize the S ( keep them 70 years in service), perhaps the Laskaridis Foundation will purchase more general support ships and the PN will install MM40 Block 3c and SAMP/T arrays. But aside from the jokes, there is a dead end. Asking for “more money” is also not a solution.

ThinkOutOfTheBox: Buy 2 additional FDI frigates plus 3 La Fayette, instead of 3 corvettes

This needs to be emphasized again. There are no new funds for large surface ships for the Navy. Remember that the next funds that the PN will receive must go to the modernization of the 214HN submarines and the Roussenne missiles. Both classes need to be updated immediately if we want to keep them alive. You also need to buy 3 modern submarines and more missiles, slightly light corvettes. And of course, the Air Force and the Army also have a large share in the equipment costs that follow, the list of which is endless (new fighters, new weapons, air defense systems, radar, TOMA, tank upgrades, artillery, rocket launcher upgrades, special ammunition, transportation, helicopters, are just the critical needs).

REVIEW: MICA NG in Gowind packages, an affordable solution for PN?

How did we get here?

It was in the now-distant 2018 that FLIGHT began writing about the pressing needs of our Navy. A period when military needs had moved to second or even third place with the pressure of memoranda, the mission of accounting support to refugee camps had also been added, while we also had some slippery public relations with “crossovers ” of pilots and leaks on the purchase of “Indian BrahMos”.

So it was in 2018 that we put the idea of ​​used ships on the table. After all, at that time the FREMMs, the purchase of which had been discussed for almost ten years, were not advancing, the MEKO200HN were not being modernized, the Roussenne missiles No. 6 and 7 were still in Eleusis. And among all the others, it was during a High Council of the Navy in 2018, when the idea of ​​​​the “small PN” was presented, which drew strong reactions from the AGEN then Admiral Tsunis. A Navy which would voluntarily reduce its manpower to 6 to 7 large ships, 6 helicopters, 7 Roussins and 5 submarines. With the justification that these smaller forces are fully operational and equipped.

Issue; The Navy remains a key driver of our country’s intervention and EEZ claims in a large area of ​​the Eastern Mediterranean. At the same time, it is the “tool” of contact and defense of Cyprus. That is to say, missions and responsibilities that he could not fulfill with reduced staff, while his “absence” risked leaving room in Turkey. It is therefore clear that such a change in philosophy and doctrine can only come from political leaders, and cannot come from GEN and GEETHA.

Shall we recall the obvious? How the armed forces carry out the popular will expressed by the elections. If a part e.g. declares before the election that he does not want us to claim the EEZ and extract hydrocarbons there, and to be elected to govern, so yes, he can change the relevant military obligations and priorities. The Armed Forces are in any case disciplined according to the democratic imperative, whereas when they are asked “a lot” they have the obligation to ask – and imperatively – for the availability of the corresponding means.

DISCUSSION: Can LaFayette frigates join the PN immediately and at no cost?

We arrived at the difficult year 2020 with the refugee crisis of March and the “hot” summer of the same year. However, these almost warlike crises led to the commitment of 5.5 billion euros to strengthen the PN. But everyone knew that 5.5 billion was the “ceiling” of expenses for large ships. And with 9 S aging and 4 MEKO200HN wanting a “yesterday” modernization, the PN wanted radical changes. FLIGHT, as early as June 2020, had written an article that attempted to shake the waters, the following:

Emergency budget for PN now or we’ll be stuck with S until the sun goes down

So, the plan these days was 4 new frigates, 2+ used and 4 modernized MEKO200HN. This was shortly after 3 FDI HN, 4 corvettes and the cancellation of the MEKO modernization. A total of only 7 new ships.

Very quickly however, with the intervention of Maximos, the modernization of the MEKO200HN became a priority again, while the obligation to build the corvettes in Greece led to a reduction in their number to 3 against 4. And current PN management has made it very clear that the target is 18 ships, not 8. Realistically of course, ask for 18 to get to at least 12-14. But if you start with a target of 8, at least you better reach the… 6 or 7.

EXCLUSIVE: Babcock offers the PN the AH140HN frigate with CAMM-ER, at less than 550 million euros per ship!

Could we – since September 2020, when the “triple” program of new, MEKO upgrading and second-hand frigates – was announced – reach the target of 12 ships, new and second-hand? Which, with a few S’s, would allow Greece to extend the 12 miles where it can and push for an EEZ? Let’s look at some claim scenarios from our side that should have been researched this periodin a combination of political and technocratic negotiation.

  1. French Solution 1. 4 FDI HN, with 5 La Fayette, modernization 4 MEKO200HN, total 13 vessels.

The sequel to Naval Defense

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