After making headlines in India, the French origin Dassault Rafale fighter jets are now set to join the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) as Greece faces an imminent threat from Turkey.
Greece’s ally, France, has approved the sale of 18 Rafale fighters, making it the first European nation to buy the fighters in a deal worth €1.7 billion. Greece will receive 12 second-hand and six new Rafales and the first aircraft will be received in 2021.
Another €300 million are allocated for the purchase of armaments for the fighter jets and € 120 million for four-year support, reported Greek newsletter Pentapostagma. The weapons will be supplied by the European missile company MBDA (Airbus, BAE Systems, and Leonardo).
The Rafale fighter jets will replace the aging fleet of Mirage 2000 in the HAF. The Dassault fighters will be equipped with Meteor air-to-air missiles along with re-receipts, or even purchases of new pieces from existing weapons such as Exocet, Scalp, MICA, said the Greek report.
Earlier twin-jet fighter jets were inducted in the Indian Air Force as India and China are engaged in a fierce border standoff.
India inducted the first batch consisting of five Rafales into the Indian Air Force’s 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’ at Ambala Air Force Station on September 10, in a grand ceremony attended by Defense Minister Rajnath Singh with his French counterpart Florence Parly.
The French origin jet can reach almost double the speed of sound, with a top speed of 1.8 Mach. It has multi-role capabilities including electronic warfare, air defense, ground support and in-depth strikes. The jets can integrate with missiles like MICA air-to-air missiles, SCALP long-range missiles, laser-guided bombs, AM39 anti-ship missiles, GIAT 30 internal cannon, Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground precision-guided weapons.
The Meteor, beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile, whose capability is linked to its long-range, which is estimated to be well over 120 kilometers. It has a maximum ‘No Escape Zone’ of 160 kilometers and can dramatically increase the striking capability of the Air Force.
On the other hand, the Storm Shadow/SCALP are air-launched long-range, conventionally armed, deep strike weapons capable of precision attacks against high-value fixed or stationary targets. The missile weighs about 1,300 kilograms and has a range of more than 250 kilometers.
The stealthy MICA is an air-to-air missile system providing a dual role to cope with both Beyond Visual Range (BVR) multi-target and Enhanced Short Range (SR) performance. It provides two guidance systems with its two interoperable seekers – radar seeker and infrared seeker.
Tensions between Ankara and Athens have soared over recent days after Greece disputed Turkey’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean as it tries to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.
The acquisition of the Rafale will boost the combat abilities of the HAF that already possess Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcons, Dassault Mirage 2000s, and McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II.
On the other hand, the Turkish F-16 jets that could be seen used against Greece, come armed with Penguin anti-ship missiles, cluster bombs, runway denial bombs, AIM-9 sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles, AIM -120 medium-range air-to-air missiles, GPS-guided monks and conventional drop bombs, including nuclear drop internal 20 mm Vulcan cannon.
The Greek media claims that once the HAF is equipped with Rafale jets and soon to be acquired stealth F-35 warplanes, they would be able to control the contested airspace and outflank the Turks in every domain.