French planemaker Dassault Aviation on Wednesday delivered the first Rafale fighter jet to the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) in a ceremony at the company’s flight test center in Istres, southern France.
The event was attended by Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and General Konstantinos Floros, Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA).
The delivery of the first jet came six months after Greece signed a 2.5 billion euro deal with France to buy 18 Rafale warplanes, 12 of them used.
According to the company, the first six aircraft will be used to further train the HAF pilots and technicians in Dassault’s conversion training center in Merignac before they are deployed to the Tanagra base near Athens.
“The Rafale will provide the HAF with a latest-generation multirole fighter, enabling the Hellenic Republic to ensure its geostrategic stance in full sovereignty,” Dassault said in a statement.
“The delivery of the first Rafale is a clear demonstration of France’s determination to meet the government of the Hellenic Republic’s expectations and to participate actively [in protecting] the sovereignty of the country,” it said.
“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,” said Dassault chairman and CEO Eric Trappier, describing the Rafale as a “strategic game changer” for Greece.
“[The Rafale] will play an active role by securing Greece’s leadership as a major regional power,” he said.