Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis says the new additions "make our air force one of the strongest in Europe and the Mediterranean" and bolsters the "flexibility" of Greek diplomacy.

Greece has ordered a total of 24 Dassault-made jets at a cost of about $3.4 billion (3 billion euros).
Greece has ordered a total of 24 Dassault-made jets at a cost of about $3.4 billion (3 billion euros). (Reuters)

Greece has received six Rafale jets from France in a multi-billion-dollar arms deal which Athens and Paris claim boosts the EU's defence capabilities.

The six warplanes landed at Tanagra air base, some 70 kilometres (43 miles) north of Athens, on Wednesday —  after overflying the Acropolis, escorted by Greek Mirage jets previously purchased from France.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who attended the ceremony, said the new additions "make our air force one of the strongest in Europe and the Mediterranean" and bolsters the "flexibility" of Greek diplomacy.

He said there was an "urgent need" to upgrade the Greek air force.

“The arrival of these Rafale aircraft signals an upgrade for our country operationally, technologically and geopolitically,” Mitsotakis said at the ceremony.

The event was broadcast live on private and state-run television.

Fire trucks greeted the aircraft with a water salute at the base, where the local Greek Orthodox bishop led a blessing ceremony.

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Defence cooperation

Greece and France had originally signed a 2.5-billion-euro ($3 billion) deal last January for 18 Rafale jets — 12 used and six new.

A Greek air force source said the aircraft that arrived on Wednesday are used.

A seventh used Rafale was delivered to Greece in July last year.

Mitsotakis has also announced plans to buy an additional six Rafale jets, bringing the total order to 24.

France has also sold Rafales to Croatia, Egypt, India, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

In September, Greece and France signed a mutual assistance defence pact that includes the purchase by Athens of three Belharra frigates.

The frigates are set to be delivered in 2025 and 2026, for a value of some three billion euros ($3.4 billion).

Greece has the option to buy a fourth frigate.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies