BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:30 A.M.) – The French Minister of Armed Forces, Florence Parly, will travel to Athens on Monday to sign a contract to sell 18 Rafale fighter jets to Greece, which is facing increased tension with neighboring Turkey.
The Greek Defense Ministry said in a statement that Parly will meet her Greek counterpart, Nikos Panayotopoulos, and “after that, an agreement to purchase Rafale combat aircraft will be signed.”
The contract, worth 2.5 billion euros, includes 12 used aircraft and six new aircraft with their weapons. Negotiations on the contract took a record time between the two governments, and the Greek parliament approved it in mid-January.
Under the contract, six new Rafale aircraft will be purchased from the manufacturer, “Dassault Aviation,” whose deliveries are to begin in 2022.
However, Athens, which wants to obtain without delay, aircraft that guarantee its air superiority in the Aegean Sea, has also bought 12 used aircraft from Paris, and will receive them from the stock of the French Air Force. Deliveries are due to start in the summer, according to the AFP.
To obtain replacements for these aircraft, Paris is supposed to sign a contract with Dassault Aviation to purchase 12 new aircraft for the French Air Force, according to the French Ministry of the Armed Forces.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis took the decision to negotiate the purchase of the Rafale last September, in the face of differences with Turkey over the exploitation of energy resources in the southeastern Mediterranean.
France supports Greece in this field, and during the summer participated in joint military exercises between the two countries in the Mediterranean.
Greece has also announced its intention to strengthen its military capabilities in 2021, despite the contraction of the restriction by more than ten percent in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the country continues to recover from a decade-long debt crisis.
In addition to purchasing the Rafale fighters, Athens plans to purchase frigates, helicopters and drones, modernize its fleet of F-16s, and recruit an additional 15,000 soldiers. Greece also announced the extension of the military service period to 12 months, from the current nine.