Countdown for Rafale jets transfer begins
The meeting Thursday of the Special Standing Committee on Armaments Programs and Contracts marks the start of the countdown for the purchase of French Rafale aircraft but also a series of steps that can lead to developments in other areas.
Together with the weapons systems the 18 jets will carry, the deal will reach 2.32 billion euros. According to the schedule, there will be three installments of six aircraft each. The first six used Rafales will be delivered about six months after the signing of the contract, in June 2021, at the rate of one aircraft per month. The next six will consist of new aircraft and will be delivered around August 2022, while the last six, again used ones, will arrive around February-March 2023.
According to estimates, the first six will be ready for combat at the end of 2021, with the second batch being all set at the end of 2022. The last six will be ready in the summer of 2023.
This practically means that the training of pilots will have been completed by then, but also that the aircraft will have been equipped with the appropriate weapon systems.
More specifically, the Rafales will need more than 400 million euros for their weapons, namely the supply of Meteor guided missiles and the upgrade of existing missiles that can be used (SCALPs, Exocets and MICAs).
Kathimerini understands that the French have met the requirements of the Hellenic Air Force regarding the condition of the 12 used aircraft.
Of the 18 Rafales, 14 are single-seaters and four are two-seaters. The first pilots will head to France for training next month.
The program was announced in September by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly, who will sign the deal in Athens in early January.
France is also keen to revisit the issue of selling frigates to the Hellenic Navy.
According to sources, Parly will bring with her a renewed French proposal for Belh@rra frigates. The interest of the French, as well as other interested parties (Americans, British and Dutch), concerns four new ships and the upgrade of the navy’s four MEKOs. But this is not the only issue at hand, as the navy needs two intermediate solution ships until the four new vessels are built.
To this end, Athens has formally requested Arleigh Burke-class destroyers from the US. The French intermediate solution could be a choice between FREMM, the older Lafayette or Gowind corvettes. In the case of the British, the Type 23 is an option, as is the Dutch M-frigates.