ATHENS, 15 Dec. (Reuters) – Greece will sign an agreement with France to purchase 18 Rafale fighter jets manufactured by Dassault in a matter of days, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on Tuesday.
The country wants to strengthen its armed forces and defense capacity with new jets, frigates and weapons, as tensions over energy resources in the Eastern Mediterranean region increase and relations with neighboring Turkey are strewn with disagreements.
“In a few days, the agreement on the acquisition of 18 Rafale-type jets in France will be signed here in Athens,” the conservative prime minister told lawmakers.
The jets will be received by 2021.
Greece, which has seen a quarter of its domestic production undermined by nearly a decade of financial turmoil, emerged from recession in 2017 to be slapped again after the coronavirus outbreak earlier this year.
This year’s economic contraction is expected to reach 10.5%, according to a government projection in the country’s 2021 budget.
Despite the difficulties, Greece’s defense budget is expected to reach 5.5 billion euros in 2020, Mitsotakis said, adding that the government is also keen to acquire new frigates, helicopters, drones and modernize its F-16 fleet. . (Report by Renee Maltezou, edited by William Maclean)