Greece announced on Saturday it will buy six more Rafale fighter jets from France bringing to 24 the total the number of French fighters sold to Athens.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis revealed plans to acquire an additional six Rafales.
“I announced the purchase of 18 Rafale. Soon there will be 24,” he said during the Thessaloniki International Fair, adding that the first aircraft, a second-hand model from France’s own airforce, would be flying Greek colors “before the end of the year”.
France on Sunday confirmed that Greece had agreed to buy six more of its Rafale jets. “Excellent news: Greece has just announced its intention to acquire six additional Rafales. Together, we are working to build true European autonomy,” French Defence Minister Florence Parly tweeted.
Excellente nouvelle : la Grèce vient d’annoncer son intention d’acquérir 6 Rafale supplémentaires. Ensemble, nous avançons pour construire une véritable autonomie européenne.
— Florence Parly (@florence_parly) September 12, 2021
Greece was the first European country to buy the combat jets made by Dassault Aviation.
In January, Athens placed an order for 18 of the planes, 12 of them second-hand aimed at boosting Greece’s defenses faced with growing tensions with neighboring Turkey.
In July, Greece received the first Rafale jet following the 2.3 billion-euro ($2.8 billion) deal.
Rafale a “strategic game changer” for Greece
“The Rafale will provide the HAF with a latest-generation multirole fighter, enabling the Hellenic Republic to ensure its geostrategic stance in full sovereignty,” Dassault said in a statement.
“The delivery of the first Rafale is a clear demonstration of France’s determination to meet the government of the Hellenic Republic’s expectations and to participate actively [in protecting] the sovereignty of the country,” it said.
“Following the Mirage F1 in 1974, the Mirage 2000 in 1985 and the Mirage 2000-5 in 2000, the Rafale is now proudly flying with the Hellenic Air Force colors,” said Dassault chairman and CEO Eric Trappier, describing the Rafale as a “strategic game changer” for Greece.
“[The Rafale] will play an active role by securing Greece’s leadership as a major regional power,” he said.
The Rafale: a multirole fighter aircraft for Greece
The Rafale is a French twin-engine, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation.
Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions. It is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.
In December 2020, Greek lawmakers approved the 2021 state budget, which includes a doubling of defense expenditures.
Mitsotakis said the government aims to increase spending on military capacity by 57% compared to that of 2019.
Greece’s defense budget is projected to reach around 5.5 billion euros ($6.6 billion US), more than double last year’s spending.
Greece will purchase eighteen French Rafale fighter jets, which will cost 1.5 billion euros next year, from a total of 2.5 billion.
“Within a few days, the deal on the acquisition of eighteen Rafale type jets from France will be signed here in Athens,” PM Mitsotakis told lawmakers during the debate on the 2021 budget.
“Never before has such a complex and important military program been carried out so quickly and efficiently,” he said, adding the government also wants to acquire new frigates, helicopters, and drones, upgrade its F-16 fleet and recruit an additional 15,000 personnel to its ranks.