Greece Finalizes Rafale Fighter Purchase

 - January 26, 2021, 8:43 AM
Greece’s Rafale buy includes aircraft currently in French service, as represented by this Rafale C armed with MBDA Mica EM and IR missiles. The longer-ranged Meteor missile is included in the Greek buy. (Photo: Dassault/A. Pecchi)

Greece’s government has completed a deal to buy 18 Rafales from France. The contract was signed in Athens on January 25 by Theodoros Lagios, the Greek defense ministry’s general director of armament and investments, and Dassault chairman and CEO Eric Trappier. The ceremony was held in the presence of the defense ministers from France and Greece, Florence Parly and Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.

The contract covers the supply of 18 Rafales, comprising 12 that are currently in French air force service and six new-build aircraft. It is expected that further Rafales will be added to France’s own order to make good the transfer of the aircraft to Greece. The agreement also includes a 4.5-year logistics support element and a weapons package, including the supply of the MBDA Meteor long-range air-to-air missile.

An intention to acquire the Rafale was first announced on Sept. 12, 2020, and parliamentary approval was granted in early January 2021. The Rafale deal comes days after the first upgraded F-16 flew for the first time in Greek skies, another element of Greece’s air force expansion plans.

Greece wants to receive the Rafales quickly in order to rapidly bolster its defenses. The first of the ex-French aircraft could arrive as early as late spring/early summer, with all 18 due to have been delivered by 2023. The Rafales are expected to serve with 332 Mira (squadron), part of 114 Pteriga Maxis (combat wing) at Tanagra. The squadron currently operates the last of the Hellenic Air Force’s unmodified Dassault Mirage 2000BG/EG fighters, alongside the upgraded/new-build Mirage 2000-5s of 331 Mira. The latter will continue to serve for some time.

Update: The expected order for 12 additional Rafales for the French Armée de l'Air et de l'Espace was announced by Florence Parly on January 29 during a visit to the Dassault factory at Argonay. They are due for delivery before the end of 2025 to bring the number of deliveries to the AAE to 129.