PARIS – The French government is to order by year-end another 12 Rafale fighter aircraft for its Air and Space Force to replace the 12 in its current inventory of 102 that are being sold to Greece.

“We have the intention, between now and the end of the year, to place an order, in parallel with the orders for Greece, of 12 aircraft for the Air & Space Force," Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly told parliamentarians at the National Assembly’s Defence Commission during a hearing on the defense budget.

When Greece announced that it would be buying 18 Rafales from France, of which 12 would be second-hand, the French government had said that each Rafale removed from the inventory would be replaced in order not to impact operations. “I’d like to reassure you. Together we’ve agreed that by 2025, in conformity with the military program law, we would have 129 Rafale aircraft and I have every intention of abiding by that,” Parly said.

The purchase of these new Rafales cannot be paid for with the funds that Greece will pay for their 18 aircraft. The Hellenic order is valued at “between €1 billion and €2 billion,” according to Parly’s Cabinet.

She explained that these monies technically would go straight into the state budget and not into her ministry’s. That means a new battle is afoot with the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Recovery about the transfer of funds into defense coffers to pay for the replacements, she admitted.

In addition to this order for 12, Dassault Aviation, manufacturer of the Rafale, still has 28 aircraft to deliver to France between 2022 and 2024. The 12 new ones would be delivered “immediately after this,” according to Parly. And by 2023 the Armed Forces Ministry plans to order a further 30 which would be delivered from 2027.

Christina Mackenzie was the France correspondent for Defense News.

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