ATHENS – Greece’s Parliament is expected to approve the purchase of 12 used and six new French-made Rafale fighter jets as the New Democracy government continues to arm up during Turkish violations of airspace and waters.
That deal was discussed by Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and French defense chief Florence Parly with the Parliament due to conclude the agreement, likely Dec. 17, said Kathimerini.
Parly also will visit Athens Dec. 19-20 although it could be changed because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but the agreement seems on track to be concluded before the end of the year, the paper said.
The total contract for the supply of the jets, fully armed with Meteor, SCALP and Exocet missiles, is expected to amount to approximately 2.5 billion euros ($3.03 billion) at a time the economy is set to shrink some 10 percent because of the pandemic.
The General Staff of the Hellenic Air Force is going to send four pilots to France for training in the aircraft so that by May the the first used Rafale will he ready for the Greek air fleet.
The contracts also include the maintenance of the existing Mirage-2000 MK-2 aircraft, as well as the renewal of all types of systems available to the armed forces, including electronic and weapons systems, the report added.
Greece and France are discussing upgrading the Greek Army’s drones and France is also eager to sell Greece Belharra frigates to bolster the Greek Navy which had been shadowing a Turkish energy vessel and warships off the island of Kastellorizo.
Greece could also get US-made F-35 fighter jets that were due to be sold to Turkey before Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan authorized purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system that could be used against Greece and undermines NATO, with Greece and Turkey both members of the alliance.