WASHINGTON: Lockheed Martin is offering an adapted version of its Multi-Mission Surface Combatant for the Greek government’s upcoming frigate program, which is expected to be awarded later this fall. But the analyst tells Breaking Defense the company faces stiff competition from several European competitors – that price will likely be king.
The Greeks “want to get the most out of it [out of the deal] … And they have demands, and they’re tough, ”said Guy Stitt, president of AMI International, a naval analysis company that tracks and analyzes vessel purchases in dozens of countries.
The list of competitors to supply the four Greek frigates is long, according to data from AMI. Among the candidates are the Dutch shipbuilder Damen with its Sigma 11515 frigate, the German firm Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems offering the MEKO A200 or MEKO A300 frigates, the British firm Babcock and its Arrowhead 140 and the Naval Group outside France offering the FDI / Belharra.
Last, but not least, the Italians: Fincantieri offers its FREMM design, which won a major victory last year after being selected by the US Navy to be the parent design of the future American frigate, now called class Constellation. All of the competitor’s offers include different levels of Greek industrial participation, as well as interim capacity proposals.
That’s not to mention some companies that AMI says, but has not confirmed, have been eliminated from the competition.
Historically, the Greeks did not buy many ships from the United States in the kind of government-to-government acquisition that would take place if Lockheed were selected for the Hellenic Future Frigate program. The last exchange Stitt and his team could recall in an interview involved Asheville-class gunboats sent to Greece in the 1960s.
So what advantages does Lockheed have in a competition against a who’s who of European shipbuilders?
In an interview with Breaking Defense ahead of this week’s Sea Air Space exhibit, Joe DePietro, a Lockheed executive, argued that foreign military sales mechanics would play to the advantage of his company. By working the acquisition through the US Navy – European companies will contract directly with the Greek government – the deal will be essentially guaranteed by the US government.
“The US government is going to oversee and certify the work being done by Lockheed Martin and the Lockheed Martin team, and then they’re going to provide that capability,” he said. “It really reduces the risk, obviously, for the Hellenic Navy.”
Stitt and his team agreed with DePietro’s suggestion that the FMS element would be Lockheed’s advantage against the Europeans.
“Essentially, the Greeks will be able to select whatever weapon systems and sensors they want and enjoy the durability that [Naval Sea Systems Command] and the United States can support it for the life of this ship, ”said Tony Beitinger, vice president of business intelligence at AMI. This is “well beyond” the types of warranties or protections that private shipbuilding companies usually offer, he added.
But would geopolitics push the Greeks to rely on someone closer to home? “No, I doubt it,” Stitt said. “I think the Greeks are negotiating for the best deal.”
The two key factors to keep in mind when Greece concludes a deal, according to AMI, will be the financial package and the country’s participation in the construction.
Bryan Clark, a member of the Hudson Institute and a retired naval officer, told Breaking Defense that the MMSC would be a good candidate for the Hellenic Navy competition because of its local air defense and anti-submarine warfare capabilities. navy would allow it to protect civilian ships and guard the sea. lanes near Greek ports. Its shallower draft is also useful for operating from the smaller Aegean ports, he added.
However, Clark questioned the reliability of the MMSC when used by a small Navy with tight funding constraints, given the challenges the United States now faces with the combination equipment on the combat ship. Freedom class coastline.
“The propulsion architecture (CODAG) is the same as that of the Freedom Class LCS, which had some design flaws in the US Navy. [Lockheed Martin] repair before accepting more cases, ”said Clark. “I assume that the corrections to the combination gear will be incorporated into the MMSC. Even so, the CODAG architecture may not have the reliability and robustness necessary for a small navy operating under budget constraints. “