The first Rafale jet for the Hellenic Air Force has been delivered to Greece today.
The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) took delivery of the first Rafale, a two-seater B model, during a ceremony hosted by Dassault Aviation at the company Flight Test Center in Istres, France, and attended by Greece’s Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, on Jul. 21, 2021.
The first delivery comes after Greece announced last year the acquisition of 18 Rafale F3-R, to replace the oldest Mirage 2000 currently in service in the Hellenic Air Force. Greece signed a 2.3 Billion Euro (2.8B USD) deal with France in January.
While some of the new jets will be newly built, the majority will be second-hand aircraft from the French Air Force. In fact, the first aircraft as well as the next five will come from the French Space and Air Force and will be used to train Greek pilots and ground personnel in France, before the aircraft move to Tanagra Air Base, Greece.
A first group of HAF pilots who have already been trained by the French Air Force in the last months, and 50 HAF technicians will soon join the Dassault Aviation Conversion Training Center (CTC) in Mérignac, France to continue their training.
“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 in a public release.
By the end of the year, Greece will receive the first six second-hand aicraft; six new ones are planned to be delivered next year, while the last six (second-hand) Rafales are expected to be delivered in 2023.
The first aircraft delivered to the HAF should be in the F3-O4T standard, the one before the latest, the F3-R upgrade, that includes some major enhancements like the new Thales RBE2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, the Spectra (Système de Protection et d’Évitement des Conduites de Tir du Rafale or, in English, Self-Protection Equipment Countering Threats to Rafale Aircraft) electronic warfare system, an Auto-GCAS (Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System) and the new laser-guided variant if the Sagem AASM “Hammer” (Armement Air-Sol Modulaire “Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range”). The Rafale F3-R will also receive the MBDA Meteor missile and the Thales Talios targeting pod.
According to most sources, in the end the HAF will operate a mixed fleet of F3-O4T and F3-R aircraft.
Greece is also looking to acquire a squadron of 24 F-35A 5th generation aircraft possibly from 2024 or at the end of the deliveries of the Rafale and the upgrade of the F-16.