We propose sending the S-300P surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles systems, but also the SA-8B Gecko and TOR-M1 mobile surface-to-air anti-aircraft systems equally of Soviet technology owned by NATO member Greece, which should then be sent to Ukraine. And in return to grant Greece, American second-hand Ticonderoga class cruisers, and with a load of SM-2 long-range anti-aircraft missiles. In this way, both the USA will find the appropriate anti-aircraft weapons that the Ukrainian forces know and do not need training in them, and on the other hand, the anti-aircraft defense of Greece will not remain uncovered, but will be upgraded.
The US should insist on this exchange and equip Ukraine with weapons that can directly enter the battlefield. Any objections by Greece to this proposal will have to be rejected because they will have no justification, so that Greece should refuse this exchange.
The S-300P is a weapon that the Hellenic Air Force acquired in 1996 out of necessity, due to international developments (since Cyprus was threatened by Turkey not to receive them), and not by choice. Since then, the system has been underutilized, has fired a few shots, while never being fully integrated into the air defense system. The crews can and do have an image from the Air Defense through Link 11B, but beyond that… we consider the biggest problem of the system to be the IFF and its non-integration with Link 16 in the NATO network NADGE (NATO Air Defense Ground Environment).
In addition, the Russians are using their stocks of S-300P missiles, as “ground-to-ground”, to hit Ukrainian infrastructure, in a strange “strike”. Greece has stood by Ukraine from the first moment. And we have imposed real sanctions, along with the entire European Union, against Russia, while the shipments of military equipment are enough.
Recently, there was an excellent exchange between Greece and Germany, using 40 BMP-1 Greek with 40 Marder 1A3 German that were actually upgraded. The specific anti-aircraft systems that Greece has today are needed by the Ukrainians, today civilians are being killed by the Russian strikes on cities.
The concession of the S-300P and the SA-8B OSA-AK and the receipt of surplus SM-2 missiles from the US Navy on Ticonderoga cruisers, is the best solution for NATO and Ukraine but also for Greece! If we think about it, it will be a win-win situation for everyone. The Ukrainians, of course, cannot make use of the US Navy’s huge stockpile of SM-2s, and Greece will accept receiving the Ticonderoga-class cruisers as long as they are armed.
Regarding the acquisition of the American Ticonderoga class cruisers from Greece, there are 3 major objections from Greece that have no valid arguments:
1. The great staffing needs of the ships.
The Greek Navy had officially requested Arleigh Burke destroyers with a crew of 310. So if he decided that he can support 2 or 3 ABs with a crew of -theoretically- 310 people, he can also support 2 or 3 Ticonderogas with a crew of 330 people. Anyway, at GEN they know that both ships can fight with a smaller number of personnel in Greek service.
2. The high cost of maintenance
The numbers listed for the annual cost of a Ticonderoga in American service, concern deployments all over the planet, next to aircraft carriers, with personnel paid 4 times as much as the equivalent of the Greek Navy. Therefore, yes, such a vessel will cost Greece more than an S-type frigate, or even 2 S-type frigates that Greece currently has, but without reaching its “American” cost. While, of course, its combat power will be many times greater, as a “Navy” by itself.
3. The enormous cost of purchasing a sufficient number of SM-2 missiles to arm them with
The large purchase fund of the SM-2 missiles required for the cruiser’s… 122 cells. Even “as soon as” 80 missiles are purchased by Greece for each, at an average cost of 3 million dollars each, means that Greece will be forced to pay 240 million dollars. For two cruisers it is 480 million dollars, and so on, but not such large amounts, given that he can buy them cheaper than the huge reserve of these missiles that the American Navy has. Maintenance and a constant flow of spare parts from the USA will breathe new life into these mighty cruisers.
Let’s remember here that the Ticonderoga, with the combination of the AEGIS combat system and the SM-2 missiles, are considered among the leading air defense ships in the world. In each Ticonderoga, after placing the 80 SM-2s in the same number of positions in the Mk41 launchers, there would be “enough” cells left, for placing ESSM Block 1 & 2, but also other weapons, such as the VL-ASROC, but also the BGM- 109 Tomahawk.
We will not discuss whether the US would provide this particular weapon to Greece in this analysis, but we believe that yes, it is releasable. The possibilities of such a ship, fully armed, are great. The acquisition of the specific Ticonderoga-type cruisers from Greece will be able to continue to participate as escort ships of the American aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.