The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) of Greece on Wednesday received its first Rafale fighter jet of the 18 it has ordered from French aircraft manufacturer, Dassault Aviation.
A handover ceremony at the company’s flight test center in southern France was attended by Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and several high-ranking military officials.
The first delivery came six months after Greece signed a 2.5 billion euro ($2.9 million) deal with France to purchase six new and 12 used Rafale warplanes.
“The Rafale will provide the HAF with a latest-generation multirole fighter, enabling the Hellenic Republic to ensure its geostrategic stance in full sovereignty,” Dassault said in a press release, adding that delivery of the new warplanes demonstrates France’s determination to actively support its ally.
Another five used, fourth-generation Rafales are expected to be delivered to Greece this year. Dassault said the first six aircraft will be utilized to further train HAF pilots and technicians.
Έτσι εκκινούν ενίοτε οι καταιγίδες… Με "Ριπές" Ανέμου 🇬🇷 🇨🇵
— GEN Konstantinos Floros (@ChiefHNDGS) July 21, 2021
Rafale Fighter Jet
Rafale is a twin-jet combat aircraft capable of carrying out a wide range of short or long-range missions such as reconnaissance, ground and sea attacks, high-accuracy strikes, and nuclear strike deterrence.
Although the vehicle was initially designed for the French Navy and French Air Force, it is now being used for combat operations in various countries, including Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq, and Syria.
Dassault described the Rafale as a “moderate size, yet extremely powerful, superbly agile, and very discrete” warplane equipped with the company’s largest and most modern range of sensors.
“The Rafale is now proudly flying with the Hellenic Air Force colors. The Rafale is a Strategic Game Changer for the HAF. It will play an active role by securing Greece’s leadership as a major regional power,” Dassault Aviation Chairman Eric Trappier remarked.
‘Sending a Message’
Tensions between Greece and Turkey have long been high in the Mediterranean Sea as both nations engage in rounds of exploratory talks over their clashing interests in the maritime territory.
France has registered its support for the Greek government in its conflict with Turkey over natural gas resources and naval influence off their respective coasts.
Panagiotopoulos said earlier this year that the acquisition of the Rafale warplanes is a boost to the country’s armed forces and could also send a clear message “in several directions.”