Greece takes delivery of 1st of 18 French Rafale warplanes

Greece has taken delivery of the first of 18 French Rafale fighter jets, part of a major military procurement plan as the country seeks to upgrade its armed forces

ATHENS, Greece -- Greece took delivery Wednesday of the first of 18 French Rafale fighter jets, part of a major military procurement plan as the country seeks to upgrade its armed forces.

Greece signed a 2.3 billion euro ($2.7 billion) deal in January for the Rafale planes, including 12 used and six new aircraft built by Dassault Aviation. They are to be delivered over the space of two years, starting this month.

“This purchase will contribute to the further reinforcement of the combat capability and deterrent power of the Air Force and the armed forces, whose main mission is the defense of the territorial integrity and the sovereign rights of our homeland,” Panagiotopoulos said.

The minister also stressed the close defense ties between Greece and France, saying the purchase “demonstrates our determination to further strengthen not only our bilateral relations, but also our cooperation for stability and prosperity in the wider eastern Mediterranean region.”

Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, described the Rafale as “a strategic game-changer for the Hellenic Air Force. It will play an active role by security Greece's leadership as a major regional power.”