Dassault Aviation on Monday delivered the first airframe of Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft to Hellenic (Greek) Air Force at Flight Test Center in Istres, France. The ceremony was attended by top officials from Greek government and French aerospace firm.
Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation was the host for the ceremony where Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, Greek Minister of National Defense was present as well to receive the aircraft. Airframe “401” is a direct transfer from French Air Force inventory to provide required firepower to the customer within a short span of time, i.e. within 6 months after the signing of the deal.
The warplane is a part of the January 2021 deal, worth US$3.05 billion for 18 Rafales, which includes 12 ex-French Air Force airframes. The HAF air and ground personnel are already in France with conversion training in progress. The first batch of 6 aircraft will be ferried from France to Greece after completion of training of the first trainee contingent, and will be deployed at HAF Tanagra Air Force Base.
Greece is the fourth foreign customer of Rafale fighter aircraft, after Egypt, India and Qatar who have already received their initial batches. With the new French jet, Greece expects to counter the threat posed by its primary adversary and neighbour Turkey. The Air Forces of both nations are frequently engaged over Aegean Sea, the disputed region in the Mediterranean. The HAF and TuAF in the past released multiple HUD footages where hostile jets were targeted with missile locks, with none going ‘hot’.
The weapons package planned under Rafale procurement includes MBDA short-to-medium range MICA, and medium-to-long range Meteor air-to-air missile; AASM Hammer Precision Guided Munition (PGM) as well as SCALP EG long-range cruise missile. According to some speculations, the weapons package is not just specifically for Rafale, but also for Mirage 2000-5 aircraft already in active service with Hellenic Air Force. The present combat fleet of the organisation comprises 20+ Mirage 2000-5 Mk2, 15+ Mirage 2000EG/BG and 150+ F-16C/D Block 50. The Air Force also operated Dassault Mirage F1 in the past and hopes to continue the relationship with the European country to meet the demands of power balance.