Greek PM Announces Rafale Purchase as Turkey tensions rise

Rafale Fighter Jet

“The time has come to reinforce the armed forces… these initiatives constitute a robust programme that will become a national shield,” the PM said.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday announced a “robust” arms purchase programme and an overhaul of the country’s military amid tension with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis delivers his annual speech on the state of the country’s economy, in Thessaloniki, Greece September 12, 2020. REUTERS/Alexandros Avramidis

“The time has come to reinforce the armed forces… these initiatives constitute a robust programme that will become a national shield,” the PM said in a keynote address in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Mitsotakis said Greece would acquire 18 French-made Rafale warplanes in addition to four multi-purpose frigates and four navy helicopters whilst also hiring 15,000 new troops and pouring resources into the national arms industry and cyber-attack defence.

The programme, which includes upgrades of another existing four frigates, is also designed to create thousands of jobs, he said.

Turkey in August sent an exploration ship and a small navy flottila to conduct seismic research in waters which Greece considers its own under postwar treaties.

Greece responded by shadowing the Turkish flotilla with its own warships, and by staging naval exercises with several EU allies and the United Arab Emirates in its own show of force.

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Turkey “threatens” Europe’s eastern border and “undermines” regional security, Mitsotakis said Saturday.

Mitsotakis said the country would also “enrich” its defence capacity with new arms, torpedoes and missiles and revamp its loss-making defence industry.

“I am delighted with this announcement, which reinforces the exceptional relationship we have had with Greece for nearly half a century, and I thank the Greek authorities for their confidence in us once again. Dassault Aviation is fully mobilized to meet the operational needs expressed by the Greek Air Force, and thus contribute to ensuring Greece’s sovereignty and the safety of the Greek people,” said Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.

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