HomeGeopoliticsFirst Rafale jets land in Greece, for the “peaceful future” of the...

First Rafale jets land in Greece, for the “peaceful future” of the region

The first batch of Dassault Rafale fighter aircraft destined for the Hellenic Air Force arrived in Greece on Wednesday. The six aircraft also conducted low flyby over the Acropolis in central Athens while also receiving a welcome escort from HAF Mirage 2000, before landing on Tanagra airbase.

Greece has ordered a total of 24 airframes of Rafale F3R in a deal worth more than US$3.4 billion amid a long-simmering dispute with Turkey over the control of energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean. The initial deal signed in January 2021 included the purchase of 18 units, with 12 second-hand units and 6 factory fresh models. Another deal signed in September paved the way for six new units of the type, bringing the total number to 24.

“The new Rafale jets which landed today are ready to take off for a better, more peaceful future for the whole region,” Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said.

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The decision to acquire units from the French Air Force inventory was made to receive the new platforms as soon as possible to counter the growing strength of its arch-rival, the Turkish Air Force that is posing threat to Greek interests in the region, especially in the Aegean Sea. Numerous alleged airspace violations by both Air Forces have been reported with confrontations and dogfights between HAF and TuAF jets.

Rafale F3R, featuring state-of-the-art European armament like MBDA Meteor ramjet-powered active radar-guided medium-to-long-range air-to-air missile offers great Beyond Visual Range (BVR) offensive capability to HAF, complementing the existing fleet of F-16C/D Block 52/52+ and Mirage 2000-5 Mk2 multirole fighters. Similar modernization plans are planned for the F-16 fleet as well, to upgrade it to Block 70/72 standard, the latest iteration of Fighting Falcon. All these are planned to gain an advantage over TuAF and prepare to counter future threats, including the under-development Turkish Aerospace Industries’ TFX stealth fighter.

However, the dialogue channel is still open for negotiations to solve disputes via diplomacy. But the all-domain military modernization programs will bolster the offensive and defensive capabilities of Athens in long term.

“We obviously don’t need anyone’s permission for their acquisition. With the same determination that our country shuts the door to every threat, it keeps the windows open for dialogue.”, said the Prime Minister.