French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation delivered the first Rafale fighter jet to the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) on Wednesday 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.
“This is how storms sometimes begin… With gusts of wind. The countdown has begun,” Floros tweeted.
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 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,” the company said.
Chairman Eric Trappier described the Rafale as a “strategic game-changer” that “will play an active role by securing Greece’s leadership as a major regional power.”