Greece’s government will pay 2.32 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for the purchase of French-made Dassault Rafale fighter jets and an upgrade of compatible missiles. Delivery of the 18 jets will begin in mid-2021 and be completed over two years. Greece has earmarked 11.5 billion euros ($14.1 billion) to modernize its armed forces over five years amid tensions with neighboring Turkey. The Dassault Rafale fighter jets will include 12 aircraft currently in service with the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace Française) and six new planes to be built by Dassault Aviation.
As part of the Hellenic Air Force upgrade, Greece will also purchase Meteor air-to-air missiles, Scalp cruise missiles and Exocet anti-ship missiles, compatible with the Dassault Rafale jets. Meteor is an active radar guided beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM) developed by MBDA. Meteor offers a multi-shot capability[further explanation needed] against long range maneuvering targets, jets, UAVs and cruise missiles in a heavy electronic countermeasures (ECM) environment with a range in excess of 100 kilometres (54 nmi). Storm Shadow is an Anglo-French low-observable air-launched cruise missile and now manufactured by MBDA. The Exocet AM39 is a French-built anti-ship missile whose various versions can be launched from helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. Range between 50 and 70 km, depending on the altitude and the speed of the launch aircraft.
The contracts with various French companies will also cover the maintenance of Greece’s fleet of Mirage-2000 MK-2 fighter aircraft, the upgrade of the Sperwer drones operated by the Greek Army and other, unspecified electronic systems. In August 2000, Greece placed a $1.1 billion order for a batch of 15 new Mirage 2000-5 Mk. 2 fighters, and had 10 existing Mirage 2000EGMs upgraded to Mirage 2000-5 Mk. 2 standard. The upgrade meant the addition of the RDY-2 radar and ICMS-3 DCS, and the ability to deploy SCALP cruise missiles and both versions of the MICA instead. All Greek machines (Mk 2s and EGMs) feature the TOTEM-3000 INS of the Mk2 instead of the Uliss-52 and have hose-and-drogue aerial refueling capability. The only visual difference between the Mirage 2000-5 Mk 2 and the existing Mirage 2000EGM/BGMs is a fixed IFR probe near the canopy.
Turkey, with a burgeoning domestic weapons industry, outspends its much smaller neighbor and historic regional rival by about 5-to-1 in defense but has a smaller advantage in fighter-jet capability than in other areas of the military. Greek defense officials argue that the Rafale acquisition will narrow the gap following a decision by the United States last year to expel Turkey from its F-35 fighter jet program in response to Ankara’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system. the Greek government reportedly requested between 18 and 24 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters from Washington in a letter on November 6. This action will shift the balance of forces in the air.