ATHENS --- Greece's government said Thursday it will pay 2.32 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for the purchase of French-made Rafale fighter jets and an upgrade of compatible missiles, under a major military overhaul amid tensions with neighboring Turkey.
Delivery of the 18 jets will begin in mid-2021 and be completed over two years, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said.
Greece has earmarked 11.5 billion euros ($14.1 billion) to modernize its armed forces over five years amid deteriorating relations with NATO ally Turkey over offshore energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Rafale jets will include 12 aircraft currently in service with the French military and six new planes to be built by Dassault Aviation. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly was due to fly to Athens on April 19 to sign the contract, although Greek media report the trip may be postponed because of the pandemic.
The contracts with various French companies will also cover the maintenance of Greece’s fleet of Mirage-2000 MK-2 fighter aircraft, the upgrade of the Sperwer drones operated by the Greek Army and other, unspecified electronic systems.
The first six used Rafales will be delivered in mid-2021 and the rest by the middle of 2023. The contract’s cost breaks down into €1.92 billion for the Rafales and another €400 million for their weapon package, Stelios Petsas said in a Dec. 17 televised briefing, including Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles, Scalp cruise missiles and Exocet anti-ship missiles.
The Hellenic Air Force will send the first four pilots to France for training in early 2021 so that by May the first used Rafales, taken from the French Air Force inventory, will be ready for delivery to Greece.)