Greece, France sign Rafale jet deal worth 2.5 bln euros
By Xinhua Published: Jan 26, 2021 11:44 AM
Greece signed a contract with France on Monday for the purchase of 18 French-made Rafale fighter aircraft for 2.5 billion euros (3.03 billion US dollars).
The deal, which was approved by the Greek Parliament earlier this month, was sealed during the visit here of French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly.
Under the agreement, over the next two years Greece will acquire six new and 12 used Rafale jets built by Dassault Aviation.
The first six planes will be delivered in July. The Greek Air Force's pilots and technicians will leave for training in France in the coming days, government spokesperson Christos Tarantilis told the press on Monday.
The deal with France is part of a wider five-year plan to strengthen the Greek Armed Forces' deterrence abilities, he said.
"The acquisition of the French Rafale fighter jets is a milestone in our bilateral defense cooperation and, more broadly, in Greek-French relations," Greek Minister for National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos told journalists following the signing ceremony at the Defense Ministry.
"The choice to purchase the French Rafale fighters underlines the strategic character of Greek-French relations," he added.
Parly said that Greece is the first European country to acquire Rafale fighter jets and that France will soon submit proposals to Greece regarding the modernization of its Navy, the Greek national news agency AMNA reported.
This is the third time in the past half a century that Greece purchases military aircraft from France, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis noted, welcoming Parly to his office.
The Rafale deal comes as tensions between Greece and Turkey have increased in recent months.
The two neighbors have been engaged for many years in a dispute over maritime boundaries and rights to energy resources in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
On Monday, the two sides resumed exploratory talks in Istanbul, Turkey, on the delimitation of maritime zones. The previous round of exploratory talks was held in 2016. (1 euro = 1.21 US dollars)
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