Greece wants its Rafale fighter jets ‘armed to the teeth’
ATHENS, (BM) – As expected, the Greek parliament voted to buy French Rafale multipurpose aircraft, learned BulgarianMilitary.com citing Defence24. In addition to 18 aircraft, including six new ones, the deal will also include long-range missiles.
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Greece said that the recently approved purchase is part of a larger plan that expects to rapidly and resolutely increase the armed forces’ capabilities. To this end, all three types of armed forces are to be modernized, including the air force, which is crucial in a possible fight over the Aegean and Mediterranean seas. Its main strength is the 153 F-16C / D, supplemented by 42 Mirage 2000, responsible for the crisis clash with Turkish aviation and specialized for this task.
Current investments in Greek military aviation will include upgrading the majority of the 84 F-16C / D to the F-16V package, and the purchase of approximately 20 F-35As is under consideration. Also, an aviation school is established together with Israel. The Greeks will buy 10 M-346 Master for it. In this context, Rafale’s purchase should probably be treated not as a displacement of the Americans from the market but as an additional squadron.
Meanwhile, Rafale’s purchase expects to cost USD 3.4 billion, and their deliveries will begin in the middle of this year and end by mid-2023. The purchase price will also include MBDA Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles.
The quick acquisition of missiles of this particular class once again suggests these aircraft’s involvement in the fight for air supremacy and not, for example, in impact missions. It seems that such armed French fighters will be an essential deterrent against Turkish aviation.
Greece is investing in its defense
Tensions between Greece and Turkey over the summer and late last year have sparked a dormant Greek defense. As we announced at the end of November, Greece is one of the five countries that will develop the new next-generation European helicopter.
According to published information, France, Germany, Britain, Italy, and Greece will develop the new helicopter, which expects to begin phasing out the current air helicopter fleets in 2035 at the earliest. We are talking about a next-generation chopper, which is a type of helicopter with a medium-lift. NATO press secretariat also confirmed the news.
According to NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana, the new next-generation helicopter will aim to provide new functionality to the system and improve the defense capabilities of NATO member states or countries that wish to purchase it. According to NATO’s deputy secretary-general, the idea is to maintain or increase the alliance’s advantage.
So far, this agreement between the five European countries is non-binding, as other willing parties may join the project, but only if the current five countries agree and give their permission.
Military analysts also say that it was no coincidence when European NATO members decided to launch such a project. It is precisely the same as that of the US Air Force, which is also starting to develop a next-generation helicopter. It is quite possible that at some point, the two sides will compare work or join forces that can lead to highly functional and practical solutions.
F-35s could land in Greece
The American fifth-generation F-35 fighters may find themselves on Greek territory at some point. We are talking about a purchase by Athens, not a stay or shared partner space.
On November 17 last year, Greece has officially sent a request to the United States to acquire 18-24 stealth multi-role fighter-bomber F-35 from 2021 and reports the newspaper Proto Thema citing information from the Greek Ministry of Defense.
“The decision to include [Greece] in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program depends on many factors, such as the fighter program, the payout plan, the aircraft configuration, and the possible combination for a total of 18-24 aircraft [new or used by the US Air Force, if any]”, said in a letter from the Greek department.
Greece wants an “immediate answer” to this issue. The Director-General of Armaments and Investment, Theodoros Lagios, has signed the document. “Due to internal financial arrangements and other applicable rules within the budget and EU deficit requirements, it is essential that the first F-35s should be in Greece in 2021. For our part, we will do our best to implement this ambitious program,” the request states.
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