The Signing of the Agreement for the Procurement of ‘Rafale’ Fighter Aircraft
On January 25th, the Minister of Defence of France, Florence Parly, paid an Official Visit to Greece, meeting at the Ministry of National Defence with her counterpart, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, and with the Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis. This important visit culminated in the signing of an Agreement for the Procurement of the ‘Rafale’ Fighter Aircraft – a contract to buy 18 Rafale fighter aircraft after Greek Parliamentarians approved the €2.5 billion ($3.04 billion) deal earlier this month.
The agreement calls for 12 second-hand aircraft, which will be taken out of the French Air Force inventory, and six new ones. The contract includes the aircraft’s weapons. A second contract was signed for the logistical support of the aircraft. Six of the second-hand aircraft will be delivered at a rate of one a month starting this July, with the six new aircraft delivered in spring 2022 and the last six used aircraft delivered in early 2023. The logistical support contract will support the Greek Rafales for four and a half years, “maintaining the availability of equipment and systems at the highest level,” according to a Dassault Aviation statement.
Speaking after the signing ceremony, Minister Parly remarked how pleased she was that Greece had made a “resolutely European choice” by opting for the French-made aircraft, thus becoming Dassault’s first European export customer. The visiting French officials further stressed the special partnership between France and Greece, with Minister Parly adding “the quality of the cooperation between France and Greece is particularly visible in the Mediterranean,” where both countries have undertaken bilateral and multilateral exercises over the past few months. “This cooperation…. is essential to ensure the security of the European continent, to ensure that the law and the freedom to circulate are respected,” she added.
According to Greek media reports the French Defence Minister was also expected to discuss the sale of Belharra frigates, made by France’s Naval Group, as the export version of the FDI medium-sized frigates built for the French Navy.
Following the agreement, which the Greek Minister said was completed in record time, both Ministers spoke of the strategic nature of Greek-French relations and referred to the role of deterrence that the aircraft will play in the Hellenic Air Force. “The advanced electronic systems… of the jets, in tandem with their weapons of strategic nature, make them a significant factor of supremacy in the air,” Minister Panagiotopoulos said. “The agreement confirms a long-standing tradition of excellent collaboration between our countries on a bilateral level, as well as at the level of regional and international organisations.”
During their meeting, Premier Mitsotakis noted that Greece’s defence protection “never served as a threat to another country,” adding that the purchase of the jets was “a sign of the need for direct and closer military cooperation at European level in the Mediterranean, or in our ‘mare nostrum’, as President Macron aptly calls it, as it is the place where the vital interests of all EU countries intersect.” The Rafale purchase he noted reflects Greece’s national strategy, which includes defence as a so-called twin pillar of Greek foreign policy. The Premier also referred to France’s historical support to Greece dating as far back as the Greek Revolution for Independence, which is celebrating its 200th Anniversary this year.
(Photos: MoD & T.Bolari, Y.Panagopoulos/Eurokinissi.)