A ceremony at the Tanagra Air Force Base marked the coming, in which a Greek priest blessed the jets and their pilots.
Greece’s newly-acquired fourth generation Rafale aircraft made a series of deafening overpasses before landing at Tanagra Air Force Base, 70km (43 miles) north of Athens. They had flown from Merignac airport near Bordeaux.
A ceremony was held at the airbase to mark their coming, in which a Greek priest blessed the jets and their pilots. The Rafale mark a turning point in Greek defense capabilities, defense experts say, because they have better-advanced targeting and weaponry than anything seen in the Aegean theatre until currently.
“They have extremely advanced [surveillance], maybe greater than 100km [62 miles], in the form of a camera that scans for the thermal signature of other aircraft,” said Konstantinos Grivas, who teaches weapons systems at the Hellenic Army Academy.
“Unlike radar, this doesn’t let the enemy understand when they’ve been spotted because it’s not emitting a beam,”.
“The most important thing of all is this plane arrives with the Meteor air-to-air missile, which is currently considered the best of its kind in the Western arsenal. Its range is officially 120km (75 miles), but it is thought that it can be as much as 150km (93km).
“These six planes can release a very big firepower without the enemy knowing they’re even there.”Greek pilots and technicians have spent a year training on the aircraft in France, so they will enter service immediately.
Greece’s air force
Greece’s air force is among the most active in NATO because Greek pilots are always intercepting Turkish F-16 fighter jets performing incursions into its airspace or overflying Greek islands.
Defence Minister Nikos Panayotopoulos told that Rafale would be doing more significant work. “It’s not a weapon we have for daily interceptions over the Aegean, it’s a strategic weapon,” he told.
Pilot Theodoros Christodoulou offered an opinion of what Rafale missions might affect. “In older aircraft, if the radar locked on a mark, only that radar was locked on it. Here … one aircraft can give on its information to another,”
Grivas calls this capability of being an eye in the sky and giving on targeting knowledge to other air, naval and land-based assets a “force multiplier”. Chairman of the joint chiefs of staff Konstantinos Floros told this networking ability across branches of the Greek military was already up and operating.
Greece placed a fast-track order for 18 Rafale jets and weapons systems for 2.32 billion euros ($2.63bn) just 16 months ago. Parliament ratified the agreements in January 2021.
Greece six new aircraft that
Dassault Aviation, which makes the aircraft, sold Greece six latest aircraft that were already in production for Egypt. Greece is to receive six used planes from the French air force this year, and six following year. It has also ordered an additional six new aircraft to make up a squadron of 24.
Greece last year also ordered three state-of-the-art Belharra frigates from France’s Naval Group for an estimated 3 billion euros ($3.4bn). The Belharra and Rafale buy underpin an unprecedented intra-NATO mutual defense treaty Greece and France signed last October.
- “The Rafale renders our air force one of the most powerful in Europe and the Mediterranean, which promotes the flexibility of our national diplomacy and our broader alliances,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told.“And it seals the Greek-French defensive compact, and gives new breath to the prospect of European strategic autonomy.”
Turkey’s population is eight times Greece’s and its army is the largest in NATO after that of the United States. Greece cannot compete in size. Unlike Turkey, which is building up its defense industry using relatively simple technology, Greece has sought a leap to high technology through a strategic relationship with France.
“Many Turkish analysts don’t consider Greece to be Turkey’s rival. Rather they consider France as the competitor in the East Mediterranean,” said Ioannis Grigoriadis, who teaches European studies at Bilkent University in Ankara.
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Greece and Turkey
So France’s decision to reinforce Greece’s defense with the Rafale is seen as a French decision to put pressure on Turkey’s operating technology Turkey doesn’t have … Greece has access to weaponry that balances out Turkey’s numerical superiority. That permits Greece to tell as an equal to its neighbor.”
Greece and Turkey flirted with armed conflict in 1974, 1987, and 1996. They nearly came to blows in August 2020, when a Turkish frigate reached near to ramming a Greek one and was heavily damaged in the process.
Relations between the two countries have deteriorated since 2017, mainly because of disagreement over how to demarcate territorial waters and rights to undersea mineral resources. Exploratory talks to solve the problem continued last year after a five-year hiatus, but have not led to an agreement
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