Competition rages on between Naval Group, Fincantieri and Damen for Greek corvettes

The competition for the construction and the delivery of 5 corvettes for the Hellenic Navy could well be the repetition of that which raged on the subject of the frigates, and which saw, finally, Athens arbitrate in favor of the Frigate of Defense and Intervention or FDI Belharra from Naval Group last September, after two years of intense negotiations and sensational turnarounds. As before, despite advanced discussions on this subject between the French manufacturer and the Greek authorities, the European and American competitors of Naval Group are determined not to facilitate the negotiations, with a lot of counter-proposals and media blows. Today, therefore, 3 models are officially offered in Athens in this competition relating to the local construction of 5 multipurpose corvettes from 2.500 to 3000 tons and the modernization of the 3 Meko 200HN frigates in service with the Hellenic Navy: the Gowind 2500 from Naval Group, the Sigma 10514 from Damen and the Doha from the Italian Fincantieri, derived from the model sold in Qatar in 2016.

The 3 models offered to Greece

102 meters long for a displacement of 2,500 tons, the Naval Group Gowind 2500 is a very balanced and economical multipurpose corvette, already exported to Egypt (4 units), Malaysia (6 elongated units) and ordered by Romania (4 units) and the UAE (2 units). Modular and versatile, it carries, in standard configuration, a 76mm gun, 4 or 8 long-range anti-ship missiles such as the MM40 Block 3C Exocet, 16 vertical cells for MICA VL (NG) anti-aircraft missiles, as well as 2 Triple torpedo launchers for Mu-90 light anti-submarine torpedoes. The ship also has a hangar and a platform to operate a 10 ton class helicopter. Very balanced in all areas, the Gowind 2.500 is particularly effective in anti-submarine warfare, notably with the excellent CAPTAS-2 variable depth towed sonar and Kingklip hull sonar, and has a powerful 3D SMART-S Mk2 radar from Thales. This confirmation, retained by Egypt, is however only indicative, since for example the Emirati corvettes carry 16 Mk56 silos for ESSM missiles, instead of MICA VL cells, and a SeaRam self-defense system.

The Naval Group Gowind 2500 offers an excellent price-performance ratio and advanced performance, particularly in the field of anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare.

The Sigma 10514 from the Dutch company Damen has dimensions comparable to the Gowind, with a length of 105 meters for a displacement of 2.350 tonnes. It has been retained to this day by the Indonesian Navy which ordered 2 ships in Damen to form the Martadinata class, and 8 long-endurance armed patrol ships commanded by the Mexican Navy derived from this same model. The equipment offered to the Hellenic Navy by Damen is strictly identical to that of the Gowind 2500 from Naval Group, with 16 MICA VL, a 76mm gun, 8 MM40 Exocet, and 2 triple tubes for Mu90 torpedoes, backed by a 3D Smart radar -S Mk2, and a Kingklip / CAPTAS 2 sonar suite. The configuration of the aviation section is also identical.

The Sigma 10514 corvette is, in many ways, perfectly comparable to the Gowind. The model offered to the Hellenic Navy also uses the same components and systems as the Naval Group corvette.

Latest arrivals in the competition, the Fincantieri Doha class corvettes are more imposing, with a length of 107 meters and a displacement of 3.250 tons. They are also, at least in their version exported to Qatar, better armed, with 2 Sylver 50 systems to accommodate 16 Aster 30 long-range anti-aircraft missiles implemented thanks to Leonardo's Kronos radar, alongside 8 missiles. anti-ship Exocet, a 76mm gun and a SeaRam system. On the other hand, the ship was not designed for anti-submarine warfare, having neither hull sonar nor towed sonar in the version sold in Qatar. In addition, they are more expensive than their French and Dutch counterparts, with an announced price of € 2bn for 5 vessels, compared to € 1,65bn for Damen and € 1,7bn for Naval Group.

The keys to Greek arbitration

Even if it has its qualities, Fincantieri's offer therefore appears at the very least off-center with respect to French and Dutch offers, which better meet the needs of the Hellenic Navy. Indeed, it has already ordered 3 perfectly capable ships in the field of anti-aircraft defense with the FDI Belharra of Naval Group, to control the enemy air threat, with in particular a very powerful SeaFire 500 radar capable of creating an air zone. air exclusion of 35.000 km2 per ship. On the other hand, even if the IDF are also excellent platforms for anti-submarine warfare, the need in this area, and in that of anti-ship warfare, requires a wider distribution of resources to protect the sea. Aegean. In addition, as said previously, even if the Doha were to be equipped with a sonar system, these ships were not designed for this mission, and their performance would in fact be limited in this area.

Designed for anti-aircraft warfare, the Doha-class corvettes suffer from the lack of anti-submarine capabilities in the version exported to Qatar.

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