Florence Parly, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, flew to Athens on January 25, 2021, to meet her Greek counterpart Nikos Panagiotopoulos and sign the sale of 18 Dassault Rafale fighter jets for the Greek Air Force.
Greece becomes the first European customer of the aircraft. The contract includes 12 used Rafale of the French Air Force and 6 new ones, all to the F3R standard, as well as an array of weapons that include Exocet anti-ship missiles and SCALP cruise missiles. The cost is estimated at a total of €2.5 billion.
The first six fighters, taken from the inventory of the French Air Force, should arrive as early as July 2021 in Greece. The rest of the order will be delivered in two installments of six in 2022 and 2023.
The Rafale jets will be based in Tanagra, the home base of the 114th Combat Wing of the Hellenic Air Force. The wing is used to French-made aircraft: after flying the Mirage F1CG fighter from 1975 to 2003, it is currently equipped with the Mirage 2000-5.
“Defense cooperation between our two countries is historic and solid,” commented Florence Parly. The contract “sends a clear message in several directions”, added Nikos Panagiotopoulos.
Facing rising tensions with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean region, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced in mid-September 2020 his intention to acquire the 18 fighters. The order was approved on January 12, 2021, by the Greek parliament with 276 positive votes out of 300.