Less than three months after the agreement reached between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom (referred to as the Aukus Alliance) torpedoed a massive contract for French submarines to the Australian Navy, issuing permission to sell frigates to Greece and demanded by the United States a firm response. On Saturday, December 11, the day after the Biden administration announced the announcement, the French military ministry said that The contract with the Greeks (…) [avait] initialed a few days ago”, rendering the competing bid by the United States null and void.
In accordance with the Franco-Greek agreement amounting to about 3 billion euros, announced with great fanfare on September 28 in Paris, three defense and intervention frigates (called Belharra for export) will be built in France by Naval Group, in Lorient (West), they will be delivered to the Greek Navy. In 2025 and 2026. In addition to ships, it includes the supply of the MBDA missile manufacturer with its weapons (Aster anti-aircraft missiles, Exocet anti-ship missiles, torpedoes) and support services over three years.
Washington has proposed selling to Athens four combat frigates and their equipment, worth $6.9 billion (about 6.1 billion euros), as well as the modernization of Greek MEKO-class frigates, for an estimated amount of $2.5 billion.
An unprecedented diplomatic crisis
These exchanges come a few weeks after an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between Washington and Paris. In September, the United States announced an Indo-Pacific security partnership with Australia and the United Kingdom, including the delivery of nuclear-powered submarines to Canberra. So Australia had breached a huge contract it had signed with France to deliver conventional submarines, angering Paris.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced A “Blow in the back”Comparing Mr. Biden’s style “What was he doing?” His predecessor Donald Trump – an insult to the Democratic president, eager to distance himself from the Republican billionaire.
France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia, and Biden admitted that the United States could have communicated better with its old ally. At the end of October, in Rome, Biden tried to turn the page on Australian submarines during a reconciliation meeting with the French president. The two heads of state had announced their intention at all “Strategic Dialogue on Military Trade”, particularly in export licenses.
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