WASHINGTON – The Greek ministry of defense has committed to buying three frigates from France’s Naval Group with weaponry supplied by MBDA in a potential $3.5 billion deal, the companies announced Sept. 28.

The memorandum of understanding comes as French President Emmanuel Macron and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced a strategic defense partnership between the two countries in Paris on the same day.

The details of a contract will be negotiated during the next three months, according to French defense spokesman Hervé Grandjean.

The three frigates, plus one as an option later on, are of the FDI configuration, which stands for frégate de defense et d’intervention. Workers at Naval Group’s shipyard in Lorient, Brittany, would build the vessels, the company said in a statement.

If it comes to a contract, the Hellenic Navy’s first two vessels would be able to jump the line in the French Navy’s production run, with delivery dates eyed for early and late 2025, respectively, Grandjean told reporters in Paris. The third ship is slated for delivery in 2026.

The vessels’ armaments include the Aster 30 B1 and Exocet MM40 Block 3C missiles.

The French defense establishment remains shaken after suddenly losing a $66 billion deal for Naval Group to build diesel-electric submarines for Australia. The Australians decided to change course and pursue a new fleet of nuclear-powered boats with help from the United Sates and the U.K.

That deal was also underwritten on the government level by a strategic partnership on defense matters — similar to language used today by Greek and French leaders.

Asked about the prospect of Greece’s commitment similarly falling through, Grandjean said officials had “no doubt about a good outcome” by year’s end.

Greece is already buying 24 Rafale fighter jets — some used, some new — from French maker Dassault.

U.S. defense giant Lockheed Martin also had been vying for the Greek naval contract. The company recently refined its bid, based on the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship for the U.S. Navy, Defense News reported.

Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News. He is based in Cologne, Germany.

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