Greece announced its intention to acquire 18 Dassault Rafale fighter jets from France to equip the Hellenic Air Force, on Sept. 12.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced the procurement amid tensions with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.
“The time has come to reinforce the armed forces… these initiatives constitute a robust program that will become a national shield,” the PM said in a keynote address in the northern city of Thessaloniki.
Rafale’s manufacturer Dassault Aviation said in a statement that the announcement “illustrates the strength of the partnership that has linked the Greek Air Force and Dassault Aviation for more than 45 years, and demonstrates the enduring strategic relationship between Greece and France”.
Greece ordered 40 Mirage F1 fighter and attack aircraft from Dassault Aviation in 1974, then 40 Mirage 2000 fighter jets in 1985 and finally 15 Mirage 2000-5 jets in the year 2000; this latest contract also includes the modernization of 10 Mirage 2000 to the 2000-5 standard with a large contribution from Greek industry.
“I am delighted with this announcement, which reinforces the exceptional relationship we have had with Greece for nearly half a century, and I thank the Greek authorities for their confidence in us once again. Dassault Aviation is fully mobilized to meet the operational needs expressed by the Greek Air Force, and thus contribute to ensuring Greece’s sovereignty and the safety of the Greek people,” said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.
Dassault Rafale is a twin-engine, canard delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by France’s Dassault Aviation.
Rafale is capable of performing air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike and nuclear deterrence missions. The aircraft is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.
The fighter is equipped with the RBE2 AA active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar and the OSF (Optronique Secteur Frontal) infra-red search and track (IRST) system.
The Rafale carries a 30 mm GIAT 30 DEFA cannon and can be armed with SCALP EG cruise missiles, MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) and AM39 Exocet sea-skimming anti-ship missiles (AShMs). The ones used by the French military are capable of conducting nuclear strikes when armed with the ASMP-A missiles.
The aircraft is available in three main variants: Rafale C single-seat land-based version, Rafale B twin-seat land-based version, and Rafale M single-seat carrier-based version. Export variants have different designations.
Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and is now operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Egyptian Air Force (EAF), and the Qatar Emiri Air Force (QEAF).
India is the newest operator of the jet with the ceremonial induction taking place at Air Force Station Ambala on Sept. 10.