Thursday, March 26, 2009
Hellenic Navy's difficulties in getting U-214 SSK into service can help DCNS to sell a Marlin SSK to PN
DCNS is poised to open formal negotiations with Greece for the sale of up to six FREMM multimission frigates, said Alain Fougeron, the sales and marketing executive vice president at the French naval company. "We are preparing for negotiations, which have not yet started," for four or six ships, including options, he said March 24. "We hope to close the negotiations as soon as possible. That goes for both sides."
Fougeron gave no price details on the 6,000-metric-ton Frégate Européene Multimission (FREMM), co-developed by France and Italy. But the economic crisis has hit Greece hard, making it tougher for the government to pay for planned purchases of the new warships and combat aircraft. DCNS asked European missile maker MBDA to be part of the French warship offer, which beat proposals from other companies, including Italy's version of the FREMM, Fougeron said. The Italian FREMM has a different combat management system, he said. MBDA has Finmeccanica of Italy as a shareholder alongside EADS and BAE Systems. DCNS has a cooperation agreement with local partner Elefsis Shipyards. DCNS last year opened an office in Athens.
In January, Greek Defense Minister Vangelis Meimarakis said the authorities had authorized bilateral talks with France to buy six FREMM warships and 15 Super Puma search-and-rescue helicopters. The estimated price of a FREMM ship is about 500 million euros ($678 million). DCNS believes the Hellenic Navy's difficulties in getting a German-built U-214 conventional submarine into service could be helpful in efforts to sell a French boat to Pakistan. Meimarakis said that Greece is trying to renegotiate a contract for a German-built conventional submarine because of technical problems, Reuters reported Jan. 22. The German four-submarine contract is reported to be worth about four billion euros, with three other 214 boats under contract. The difficulties of the Greek submarine, the Papanikolis, has probably led Pakistan to reconsider a planned buy of the 214 from Howaldstwerke Deutsche-Werft (HDW), leaving the door open to DCNS' Marlin, an all-French derivative of the Franco-Spanish Scorpene. HDW is part of Germany's ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems.
"We are in the game in Pakistan," Fougeron said. The last of three Agosta 90 submarines built for Pakistan's Navy took to the sea in September, equipped with the Mesma air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, Fougeron said. The AIP system, which allows the submarine to operate for longer periods underwater, has been used heavily and is working well, he said. Two earlier Agosta 90 submarines have been retrofitted with the air-independent propulsion system.