Greece Adds Six More Dassault Rafale Fighters

 - September 13, 2021, 4:09 AM
Rafale B 401, the first to be handed over to Greece, flies near the Dassault flight test center at Istres in southern France. (Photo: Dassault Aviation)

Greece intends to purchase six more Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters, adding to the 18 it has already ordered. The top-up buy was announced by Greek prime minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during a nationally-televised speech from the Thessaloniki Industrial Fair on September 11. The intention was also confirmed on social media by France’s defense minister, Florence Parly.

During a period of heightened tension with its neighbor Turkey, Greece signed a contract with France on January 25 covering the rapid delivery of 12 Rafales from Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace (AAE) stocks, plus six new-build aircraft. The first of the former French air force jets aircraft was handed over to the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) on July 21, with the initial deliveries being retained temporarily in France for training.

Mitsotakis said that the Rafale would be flying in Greece before the end of the year. It is not yet clear if the additional aircraft will be newly built or drawn from the AAE inventory. Within days of the initial contract, Parly announced a French order for 12 new-build Rafales to replace those diverted to Greece.

Raising the total number of Rafales to be acquired by Greece to 24 permits the HAF to replace its surviving first-generation Dassault Mirage 2000s on a greater than one-to-one basis, in so doing restoring 114 Pteriga Maxis (combat wing) at Tanagra to nominal full size of 48 aircraft. Thirty-six Dassault Mirage 2000EG single-seaters and four 2000BG two-seaters were ordered in 1985, and had been delivered by 1989. In the 1990s they were upgraded to 2000EGM/BGM status with improved radar and the ability to fire Exocet anti-ship missiles.

In 2000 the HAF ordered 15 of the second-generation 2000-5 variant with RDY-3 radar and Mica missiles, while upgrading 10 of the EGM versions to a similar standard. One aircraft was lost in a 2018 crash, and the 24 survivors are assigned to 331 Mira within 114 PM. Around 17 first-generation aircraft survive to fly with 332 Mira at the same base. As well as hosting Mirage training, 114 PM is also responsible for maintaining a fighter detachment on the Aegean island of Skyros.