The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) has officially received its first Dassault Rafale combat aircraft.
The formal handover ceremony took place on 21 July at Dassault Aviation Flight Test Centre in Istres and was presided over by the Greek Minister of National Defence, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, and the President and CEO of Dassault Aviation, Éric Trappier.
The company said this first aircraft, as well as the next five to come from the French Space and Air Force, will train the HAF Pilots and Technicians in France before deploying to TANAGRA Air Force Base.
The first group of HAF pilots, already trained for several months by the French Space and Air Force, and 50 HAF technicians will join the Dassault Aviation Conversion Training Center (CTC) in Mérignac, France to continue their training.
News of the delivery comes six months after Greece and France signed a contract for 18 Rafales configured to the latest F3R standard, valued at an estimated EUR1.92 billion (USD2.35 billion).
The deal, approved by the Greek parliament in December 2020, comprises 12 second-hand Rafales from French Air and Space Force stock (10 B-model single-seaters and two C-model twin seaters) and six new-build aircraft, along with a four-and-a-half-year logistic support package.
A separate EUR400 million deal was also signed to purchase MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles (BVRAAMs) and to upgrade missiles already in the HAF inventory, namely Mica air-to-air missiles, Scalp cruise missiles, and Exocet anti-ship missiles, for carriage by the Rafales.
The aircraft handed over to the HAF in July is a former French single-seat Rafale B F3R fighter. As noted by Dassault, this aircraft and the next five from the French inventory will be used to train HAF pilots and technicians in France, before being deployed to Tanagra Air Base.
The Rafale will provide the HAF with the latest-generation multirole fighter, enabling the Hellenic Republic to ensure its geostrategic stance in full sovereignty. The delivery of the first Rafale is a clear demonstration of France’s determination to meet the government of the Hellenic Republic’s expectations and to participate actively to the sovereignty of the country.
It illustrates also Dassault Aviation’s outstanding quality of cooperation with the Hellenic Air Force, through more than 45 years of an uninterrupted and strong partnership.
“Following the Mirage F1 in 1974, the Mirage 2000 in 1985, and the Mirage 2000-5 in 2000, the Rafale is now proudly flying with the Hellenic Air Force colors. The Rafale is a Strategic Game-Changer for the HAF. It will play an active role by securing Greece’s leadership as a major regional power. I would like to reaffirm our total commitment to the success of the Rafale in Greece,” said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.