A military source yesterday confirmed recent reports in The Cyprus Daily that Nicosia could very well acquire two warships from the French government.
The Cyprus Daily reported that the MoD was eyeing two French-Italian built FREMM multipurpose frigates designed to operate in anti-air, anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare but also be capable of carrying out deep strikes against land targets.
The move to purchase the frigates comes as part of sweeping reforms by Defence Minister Fotis Fotiou to reinforce the island’s navy as drilling continues in Cyprus waters amid threats from Turkey.
This week, Fotiou gave the green light for a special committee to be assembled so as to set up a feasibility study aimed at looking into the possibility of purchasing the ships.
But the MoD’s efforts have been hampered by the current economic crisis in Cyprus.
During yesterday’s meeting between Fotiou and French Ambassador to Cyprus Jean-Luc Florent, the issue of the two frigates was discussed according to a military source.
“During the pre-scheduled meeting to discuss the strengthening of ties between the two governments and security in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone, the ambassador did also mention the reports in The Cyprus Daily linking the MoD to the purchase of ships from France.”
“The ambassador informed the minister that his government was open to any discussions on this matter,” said the official source.
The same source went on to say that although a full-on purchase for the frigates – which could cost as much as €30 million - may be out of the question for the MoD as things stand now, the two governments could enter a deal in which the ships “are leased” to Cyprus.
“Priority is now being given to obtaining modern, state-of-the-art equipment that will be purchased within our budgets, so we can at least be ready for any possible incident or, at least, to properly patrol and preserve our Exclusive Economic Zone,” Fotiou said.
The expected cost for the two vessels is set to put the government back some €15m although that figure could even double with add-on navy equipment.