As tensions between Greece and its powerful neighbor Turkey continue to rise in the eastern Mediterranean, the Greek prime minister announced on Saturday the purchase of 18 Rafale aircraft. Kyriakos Mitsotakis gave details on Sunday about this historic contract that makes Greece the first European country to acquire French fighter jets.
After Egypt, Qatar and India, it is Greece’s turn to order 18 Rafale aircraft. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in particular stated on Sunday 13 September that six of the 18 units would be new and 12 used.
“The first units will arrive in Greece in 2021 and the purchase will be completed in early 2022,” he said at a news conference without specifying the cost of this purchase, which is intended to replace Mirage-2000, including French.
This agreement comes in the context of strong tensions with Turkey, which claims the right to exploit hydrocarbon deposits in a maritime area that Athens considers to be under its sovereignty. In recent weeks, the two countries have shown their muscle with declarations of war, military maneuvers and transports to the area.
“A success for the French aviation industry”
The announcement is excellent news for Paris, which is in great need of dynamic exports for its defense industry. In a press release, the Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, welcomes the fact that “a European country wants to acquire Rafale fighter jets for the first time”.
Used by the French navy since 2004 and the air force since 2006, Rafale, manufactured by Dassault Aviation, has long struggled to export. It was not until 2015 that he found a buyer for the first time in Egypt and then in Qatar. In 2016, India ordered 36 aircraft for an estimated $ 9.4 billion.
Rafale is capable of performing various missions during the same flight and is qualified for air defense, strategic bombing and ground support, anti-ship warfare and air reconnaissance operations.
It is also the vector for French airborne nuclear deterrence. Deployed in 2007 in Afghanistan, it was the first aircraft to intervene in Libya in 2011, before being engaged in Mali in 2013 as part of Operation Serval.