Greek Prime Minister strengthens defense relations with France: announcement of French arms agreements


By Pierre TranParis – Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on September 13, 2020 that a planned acquisition of 18 Rafale fighter jets in France would include six new units and 12 used units, with the first delivery scheduled for next year.

“It consists of six new planes and 12 that have been lightly used,” Mitsotakis told a press conference, AFP reported.

The first unit is expected in 2021, with the last to be shipped the following year, he added. No financial details were given.

The announcement by Greece of a planned order for 18 Rafale underscored the importance of the potential first sale of the French fighter plane to a European country.

A desire to rearm Greek forces follows heightened tension with Turkey.

This tension is based on competing territorial claims for maritime access around the Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean.

“Greece has announced its wish to acquire 18 Rafales,” said Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly on social networks.

“Excellent news for the French aeronautics industry and a first: a European country wants to acquire Rafale fighter jets.”

The next few months should culminate in a contract for the Rafale, the Ministry of the Armed Forces said in a September 12 statement.

This combat deal was part of a larger Greek campaign to strengthen the service and arms industry. The 2008 financial crisis hit Greece hard, forcing a freeze on arms acquisitions.

In addition to the Rafale, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on September 12 his intention to acquire four frigates, four MH-60R naval helicopters, heavy torpedoes, air force missiles and anti-tank missiles. for the military, Greek media reported. reports.

Four Meko-200HN frigates will be modernized and 15,000 people will be recruited over five years.

The planned combat aircraft order will allow the Greek Air Force to withdraw the oldest Mirage 2000 to pilot a Rafale squadron.

This fleet of French-built fighters would be made up of a mix of new planes and those previously flown by the French Air Force, Greek media reported.

The Greek announcement surprised the French arms industry, with one executive saying, “It’s unclear whether this is good or bad news.

For the French aeronautical sector, the Greeks seem to be carrying gifts.

A Greek order would improve business prospects for prime contractor Dassault Aviation, which saw a production shortfall in 2024-27 for the fighter jet.

The COVID 19 health crisis has forced the company to cut sales forecasts for its Falcon, as the development of a new 6X version of the business jet and further work on this family of civil aircraft weighs heavily. on the finances of the company.

Export contracts are essential for Dassault and French subcontractors, as deliveries of the 28 Rafales for the French Air Force will not resume until 2022 under the multi-year military finance law.

Dassault is negotiating a fifth tranche of Rafale and has called on France to advance the order and delivery of this lot. If France ordered this fifth batch in 2023, deliveries could be made in 2025 instead of 2027, keeping the production line busy.

Egypt, India and Qatar are the three foreign countries that fly the Rafale, which equips the French Air Force.

“This announcement illustrates the strength of the partnership that has linked the Greek Air Force and Dassault Aviation for over 45 years, and demonstrates the lasting strategic relationship between Greece and France,” Dassault said in a September 12 press release. .

Greece ordered 40 Mirage F1 from Dassault in 1974, 40 Mirage 2000 in 1985 and 15 Mirage 2000-5 in 2000.

In this latest agreement, 10 of the Mirage 2000s were upgraded to 2000-5, with the work being subcontracted to local industry.

Tensions between Greece and Turkey escalated when Ankara last month dispatched the research vessel Oruc Reis, escorted by warships, to search for oil and gas in the eastern Mediterranean waters claimed by the Greece.

Each side has since organized military exercises and France has sent two Rafales and two warships to support Greece on the territorial dispute.

Dassault has delivered five Rafale to India out of the 36 ordered and is delivering the fighter to Qatar. Egypt received the 24 units.

The photo of the meeting with the French President and the Greek Prime Minister is taken from the following article:

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