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Athens to acquire 18 Rafale to form a "national shield"



           


Greece orders 18 Rafale from Dassault Aviation (photo: Dassault Aviation)
Greece orders 18 Rafale from Dassault Aviation (photo: Dassault Aviation)
GREECE. Kyriakos Mitsotakis decided on Saturday 12 September 2020 during a speech in Thessaloniki to launch a "major" programme of arms purchases and a reorganisation of his country's armed forces. The Greek Prime Minister is notably going to acquire eighteen new and second-hand French Rafale fighters, frigates and helicopters.

The information had already leaked to the Greek press a few days before the MED7 summit, bringing together seven southern EU countries. Florence Parly, French Defence Minister, was delighted that "for the first time a European country wishes to acquire Rafale fighter aircraft". A French army fighter since 2004, the aircraft developed by the French Dassault Aviation (60%), Thales (22%) and Safran Aircraft Engines (18%) has so far only been sold in Egypt, Qatar and India.

At the same time, Athens is planning to recruit 15,000 additional soldiers. With this programme, Kyriakos Mitsotakis intends to 'form a national shield'.
 

Increasing tensions between Ankara and France

In a press release published on Saturday 12 September 2020, Dassault Aviation (€7.3 billion in sales in 2019 and 12,750 employees) confirmed this order. Its CEO, Eric Trappier, indicated that his company was "fully mobilised to meet the operational needs expressed by the Greek Air Force, and thus contribute to ensuring the sovereignty of Greece and the security of the Greek people". A customer since 1974 with the purchase of forty Mirage F1s (followed by forty Mirage 2000s in 1985), Athens had not signed a contract with the manufacturer since the year 2000 and the acquisition of fifteen Mirage 2000-5s completed by the modernisation of ten Mirage 2000s to the 2000-5 standard.

This announcement comes at a time when enormous tensions between Turkey and several European Union countries, including Greece, have been growing since Ankara sent a gas exploration vessel, escorted by warships, into disputed waters. The final declaration of the participants in the MED7 Summit affirmed "full solidarity with Cyprus and Greece in the face of repeated infringements of their sovereignty and sovereign rights and the aggressive measures taken by Turkey".

On Saturday 12 September 2020, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, once again threatened Emmanuel Macron, support of Athens, during a televised speech. "Don't quarrel with the Turkish people, don't quarrel with Turkey (...) Mr. Macron, you're not done having trouble with me yet", the Turkish Prime Minister said. Before asking Greece to "stay away" from actions supported by countries like France in the eastern Mediterranean. Paris has strengthened its military presence in the region.

 


Frédéric Dubessy


Monday, September 14th 2020



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