US raises ship offer to Greece as frigate deal between Athens and Paris had until the end of 2021 to reach a final agreement.

Paris felt
Paris felt "backstabbed" in September after Australia dropped a submarine agreement with France and signed with the United Kingdom and the United States. (AFP Archive)

The US State Department announced the approval of the potential sale of naval frigates to Athens to challenge a deal announced between France and Greece in September.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said on Friday it had approved the sale for $6.9 billion of four Lockheed Martin combat frigates, known as multi-mission surface combatant ships, just 10 weeks after Athens signed a memorandum of understanding with Paris on a similar deal for French-built ships.

Additionally, the frigate agency also notified Congress of the approval of a sale of MEKO Class Frigate Modernization and related equipment for an estimated cost of $2.5 billion.

The modernisation request came from Athens for their four existing MEKO class frigates, the agency noted.

READ MORE: What NATO? Greece ratifies controversial defence deal with France

Washington-Paris arm wrestle 

The announcement suggested that France faces a fresh commercial arms deal threat after the United States wrested away a massive submarine contract for Australia in a shock announcement on September 15 that ruptured relations between Washington and Paris.

France recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia and labelled it a "stab in the back" by an ally when Canberra ditched a longstanding deal worth billions of euros to buy conventional French submarines for US nuclear-powered vessels.

Two weeks after that, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis set a memorandum of understanding with President Emmanuel Macron for France to buy three and possibly four French Belharra frigates for three billion euros ($3.5 billion).

The French ships would be built by the Naval Group for delivery beginning in 2024.

In the France-Greece deal, the two sides had until the end of this year to reach a final agreement.

READ MORE: AUKUS pact: France needs to accept new reality if it wants to compete

Source: TRTWorld and agencies