ATHENS, ($1=0.88 Euros) – The Greek Air Force [HAF – Hellenic Air Force] today, January 19, received the first six Rafale fighters from the French consortium Dassault Aviation, an aircraft manufacturer, learned BulgarianMilitary.com, citing a press release from the French company.
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The fighter jets were piloted by six Greek pilots, who took off from Dassault Aviation in Istria to the Greek airbase Tanagra. The 332nd Greek Squadron is stationed at Tanagra Air Base and will be the one to operate the first French fighters.
BulgariaMilitary.com reminds us that last year Greece and France signed an agreement for the purchase and sale of 18 Rafale fighters. This delivery is actually the first of the next, which are expected in late 2022 and early 2023. In addition to the fighters, France has provided its Greek partners with training for Greek pilots, mechanics, and technicians to service the fighters. Dassault Aviation says the training is not over and will continue in the coming months.
The reception of the six new Greek fighter jets was accompanied by a brief ceremony at Tanagra Air Base, attended by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accompanied by National Defense Minister Nikolaos Panayotopoulos and senior Greek officials. Eric Trapier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, was also present to welcome the arrival of the fighters.
Eric Trapier praised the piloting skills of Greek pilots who have successfully piloted aircraft to their final destination. He stressed that the order was fulfilled in record time and the choice of HAF to choose Rafale speaks of the quality of the aircraft. Trappier was confident that Rafale would fulfill Greece’s strategic ambitions to protect its territorial integrity.
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.
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