Ioannis Michaletos / Balkanalysis.com) – 2007-12-03 00:08:30
(November 30, 2007) — The Greek Armed Forces plan to modernize themselves considerably over the coming year, due to the maturation of many defense-related programs and projects that were procured in previous years. Some of these enhancements have strategic importance for the overall regional balance of power in the Balkans and Mediterranean, and the capabilities they entail for the Greek military.
Greek Land Forces
Greece has already received four of the 12 AH-64D (Apache) attack helicopters ordered from Boeing. It is assumed that the final delivery will occur by next year, bringing the total to 32 helicopters of that type by then. The features of this type of attack helicopter include radar that can follow on 256 different targets simultaneously.
It is notable that Greece is one of the few countries worldwide to use this type of helicopter, after the USA, UK, Israel, the Netherlands and Japan. Moreover, Greece began receiving the first batch of the new Leopard 2HEL battle tanks that will be jointly manufactured by the Greek ELVO company and the German KMW.
The total order was for 170 units at a total cost of 1.7 billion euros, priced in December 2003. This type of tank is the most advanced in Europe today, and will be accompanied by highly lethal APFSDS ammunition, which can penetrate most types of armored vehicles. This procurement cycle is to end in late 2011 and it is assumed that these tanks will be deployed on the Thracian front, in order for the Greek army to gain a considerable advantage over Turkey’s ageing M-48 and M-60 tanks.
Also over the coming months, the Greek army will receive the 130 Leopard 2A4 type tanks ordered from Germany, in parallel with the aforementioned 2HEL one. This delivery will be coupled with the 98 Leopard 1A5 type tanks that were gained by the Greek Army as an offset of the total tank procurement package. The Greek army is increasingly becoming more “Continental” in posture by replenishing its strength and switching from American models to German ones.
The Greek army’s aviation unit has also taken its share of deliveries over the year, with the first NH90 type transport helicopters now received, from a total procurement of 20 units. They are produced by Eurocopter, a French-German conglomerate, and will serve the Army well, replacing the somehow still operable American Huey helicopters, many of which have been in service since the early 1970’s, some of them having actually served in the Vietnam War.
All the above deliveries were procured from 2001 to 2003 and cost approximately 2.9 billion euros.
Greece has already received its first submarine from an original procurement of three; the S-214 type from the Kiel shipyards. The submarine is constructed and equipped with fuel-cell technology that provides extended duration travel below sea level, and is extremely quiet and hard to detect. Until now it has not been introduced into service, due to problems concerning its stability in journeys and technical malfunctions. Should these problems not be resolved, no other submarine is going to be accepted by the Navy.
Another Navy delivery in 2007 comprises the 2 minesweeper vessels sold by the USN, OSPREY type ones. Greece expects that over the coming years it will be able to acquire another three similar type vessels so as to fully modernize its abilities in this naval field (1).
On the Fast Attack Vessels deliveries, the Greek Navy in May 2007 received the first of four Combattante III type ships that are currently undergoing a modernization program in the Syros shipyards in Greece. They have upgraded their electronic warfare systems and proceeded through a thorough reconstruction process. Concerning the same class of vessels, Greece is about to receive the last two Super Vita type Fast Attack Vessels that are manufactured in Elefsis yard, based on a British model. They are scheduled to be ready by autumn 2007.
Lastly by the end of the year the modernization program of the Frigates S type will be completed, bringing a total of six vessels that have upgraded their fighting capabilities.
All the above deliveries were procured between 1999 and 2004 and have cost approximately 2.4 billion euros.
The Greek Air Force has undertaken important upgrades in its arsenal during 2007. It began by receiving the first 2 aircraft Mirage-2000-5 Mk2 type, out of a total procurement of 25 units. This delivery will be joined by another one of 10 200-5 type that were modernized from a 2000 level. The unique feature of this type of French aircraft is its ability to strike launches (air-to-ground) of the SCALP-EG missile which has a range of 250 km.
Greece will also have received 56 of these missiles by the end of the year, along with an array of MICA and Magic type air-to-air missiles, specifically for the Mirage aircraft. Furthermore this type of fighter jets is equipped with RDY radar, which is considered to be the top of its class and the best operational radar yet seen in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean environment.
Another important defense aspect this year for the Greek air force would be the completion of the installation of the ASPIS II electronic protection system in the Greek F-16 Block 52+ aircraft. This system will offer an electronic protection shield on par with the highest NATO standards for these types of jets and protect them from the perils of electronic warfare to a great extent.
In the sector of transport airplanes, the Greek air force completes this year its procurement of 12 C-27J Spartan type. Greece has had to count heavily on its fleet of C-130 carrier aircraft, and the new planes will greatly assist in advancing the abilities of the military to transport material in and out of the country and in destinations such as Afghanistan and Kosovo where Greek troops are stationed as part of peacekeeping forces.
A last and crucial addition to the Greek air force’s fleet is the consignment of four new EMB-145H AWACS, which are being constructed by a French-Brazilian-Swedish consortium. Greece, for the first time in its aviation history, will acquire air radar capabilities with an average detection range of 350 km for enemy planes and 150 km for incoming cruise missiles. It is assumed that these four aircraft could fully meet the needs for a defense from the Northern Aegean archipelagos and up to the central Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
All the above deliveries were procured from 1998 to 2003 and have cost approximately 2.4 billion euros.
A last and notable development concerning the Greek military is the creation and operation of the “Intelligence Electronic Centre,” administered by the army (2). It’s tasked with the continuous collecting of OSINT information concerning anything transmitted on domestic and world media concerning military affairs. It is also responsible for upholding the security status of internet and intranet networks of the military, and monitors leakages of sensitive and/or classified information over the World Wide Web. Already, in the centre’s three months in operation, it has successfully tracked down six attempts to disclose military information, either deliberately or by accident.
In the overall picture, 2007 can be regarded as the year in which the Greek military finally received a significant amount of military hardware originally ordered during the previous decade. The total armament arsenal to be delivered by year’s end cost some 7.7 billion euros. This major enhancement is helping Greece to become one of the world’s most capable mid-sized military powers in the world.
Over the next decade, the country is planning to execute a defense procurement budget of some 22 billion euros aimed at securing its place in the “network-based warfare structure” with an emphasis on attaining regional air and sea supremacy. It does have to be noted, however, that financial considerations relating to policy made by the Ministry of National Economy will most probably result in a somewhat lower total budget than that previously allocated for military procurements.
Anticipated procurements to watch (2008-2010)
40 training jets for the air force (1 billion Euro approximately), to be contested mainly between British Aerospace’s (UK) “Hawk” jet and Aeromachi’s (Italy) “M-346.”
6 Frigates for the navy (2.8 billion euros approximately), to be contested mainly between HDW (German) & DCN (French) corporations.
3) 40 4th-generation fighter jets ( 2.8 billion Euro approximately) to be contested between Dassult’s (France) “Rafale”, EADS’s (UK, Germany, Italy, Spain) ” Eurofighter” and Lockheed Martin’s (USA) “F-35 Lighting II.”
(1) Hellenic Defense & Security Journal (Athens), March 2007, Vol. 13. P. 55
(2) Strategy Journal (Athens) March 2007, vol. 150., p. 30