ATHENS – With six of 24 French-made Rafale fighter jets arriving in Greece, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said at a ceremony welcoming them that they are a deterrence against Turkey, which repeatedly sends fighters into Greek air space.
“The new fighters make our air force one of the strongest in Europe and the Mediterranean, and seal the Greek-French defense agreement,” he added, citing an agreement between the countries to come to each other’s aid, said Kathimerini.
The jets flew briefly over the Acropolis on their journey from southern France en route to their delivery point. “We do not need anyone’s permission to acquire these Rafales,” Mitsotakis said, adding that “while Greece closes the door on any threat, it keeps the windows of dialogue open.”
Defense Minister Nikos Dedias tweeted a photo of the overflight from his office balcony where he was joined by his new Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Kasoulides, to celebrate the occasion.
The order was placed a year earlier for 18 jets but in September, 2021 another six were added to boost the Greek Air Force, whose pilots are in frequent mock dog fights with Turkish jets violating Greek airspace.
It comes at a cost of 3.3 billion euros ($3.74 billion) with Greece also planning to buy three French Belharra frigates at a cost of 3-5 billion euros ($3.4-$5.7 billion) to put more warships in the seas where Turkey has employed its own between the countries.
Greece’s New Democracy government is also interested in buying five Gorwind Corvette ships from France as well as vessels too from the United States defense contractor Lockheed.