Facing Turkey, Paris' support paid off: Greece buys six more Rafale

“Excellent news: Greece has just announced its intention to acquire six additional Rafale. Together, we are moving forward to build real European autonomy, ”French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly tweeted on September 12. The day before, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had suggested that his country was going to take this step by declaring at the Thessaloniki International Motor Show: “I announced the purchase of 18 Rafale. Soon there will be 24. ” He also planned a first flight in the Greek skies before the end of the year.

Greece had concluded in record time in January the purchase of its first 18 Rafales to strengthen its defense and its partnership with France. The decision to negotiate was taken in September 2020 by Athens in reaction to Turkey’s gas exploration and its show of force in disputed waters with Greece and Cyprus.

France was then demonstratively sided with Athens and had sent Rafale and warships in the face of the deployment of Turkish military and prospecting ships. This first contract, worth around 2.5 billion euros, covers 12 used aircraft and six new aircraft, to be delivered by September 2023. For France, this contract represented the first sale of the aircraft. Rafale in Europe, towards which Paris is seeking to direct its arms exports and encourage cooperation. At the end of May, Croatia followed with an order for 12 second-hand aircraft.

Apart from the French army, Qatar (36 aircraft), Egypt (24) and India (36) are the other customers of the Rafale. Egypt also confirmed in May a contract for the purchase of 30 additional Rafales. The aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation delivered its first Rafale to Greece in July, a second-hand aircraft taken from the French Air Force fleet like the 11 others to come. Greece has resolved to acquire second-hand equipment in order to have the means to ensure its air deterrence in the Aegean Sea more quickly.

The main mission of the Rafales will be to ensure the “territorial integrity” of Greece in a context of “potential instability” coming in particular from Turkey, according to the Greek Minister of Defense Nikolaos Panayotopoulos.

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