Greece is to sign a formal agreement with France for the purchase of 18 Rafale fighter jets at a ceremony in Athens on Monday.
French Defense Minister Florence Parly will visit the Greek capital and will also hold meetings with Greek leadership.
Greek MPs approved the purchase of six new and 12 used Rafale aircraft from France for 2.5 billion euros ($3.04 billion) earlier this month.
All of Greece’s political parties, with the exception of the Communist party and Gianis Varoufakis’ Mera25, voted for the bill.
Defense expenditure doubles
In December, Greek lawmakers approved the 2021 state budget, which includes a doubling of defense expenditures.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said the government aims to increase spending on military capacity by 57% compared to that of 2019.
Greece’s defense budget is projected to reach around 5.5 billion euros ($6.6 billion US), more than double last year’s spending.
Greece will purchase eighteen French Rafale fighter jets, which will cost 1.5 billion euros next year, from a total of 2.5 billion.
“Within a few days, the deal on the acquisition of eighteen Rafale type jets from France will be signed here in Athens,” PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis told lawmakers during the debate on the 2021 budget.
“Never before has such a complex and important military program been carried out so quickly and efficiently,” he said, adding the government also wants to acquire new frigates, helicopters, and drones, upgrade its F-16 fleet and recruit an additional 15,000 personnel to its ranks.
Jets to arrive in July
Pilots will begin training in France in early 2021, while the first six planes — which have been previously used — will arrive in Greece by July, Defense Ministry officials said.
The Rafale is a French twin-engine, multirole fighter aircraft designed and built by Dassault Aviation.
Equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions. It is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault.