PARIS – The Greek and French defense ministers in Athens today witnessed the signature of the contract to buy 18 Rafale fighter aircraft after Greek parliamentarians approved the €2.5 billion ($3.04 billion) deal earlier this month.

Nikos Panagiotopoulos and his French counterpart, Florence Parly, looked on whilst Theodoros Lagios, the director general of armaments and investments at the Greek Ministry of Defense, and Eric Trappier, chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, the aircraft manufacturer, signed the contract for 12 second-hand aircraft, which will be taken out of the French Air Force inventory, and six new ones. The contract includes the aircraft’s weapons. A second contract was signed for the logistical support of the aircraft.

Speaking after the signing ceremony, Parly remarked how pleased she was that Greece had made a “resolutely European choice” by opting for the French-made aircraft, thus becoming Dassault’s first European export customer.

Six of the second-hand aircraft will be delivered at a rate of one a month starting this July, with the six new aircraft delivered in spring 2022 and the last six used aircraft delivered in early 2023.

The logistical support contract will support the Greek Rafales for four and a half years, “maintaining the availability of equipment and systems at the highest level,” according to a Dassault Aviation statement.

Trappier and Parly both stressed the special partnership between France and Greece. Parly said, “The quality of the cooperation between France and Greece is particularly visible in the Mediterranean,” where both countries have undertaken bilateral and multilateral exercises over the past few months. “This cooperation [….] is essential to ensure the security of the European continent, to ensure that the law and the freedom to circulate are respected,” she added.

According to Greek media reports Parly was also expected to discuss the sale of Belharra frigates, made by France’s Naval Group, as the export version of the FDI medium-sized frigates built for the French Navy.

Christina Mackenzie was the France correspondent for Defense News.

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