Six Rafale of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), operated by its pilots, took off from the Dassault Aviation site in Istres to the Tanagra Air Base, where they were welcomed in a ceremony by the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accompanied by the Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and Senior Greek authorities. Éric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation, was also present to welcome their arrival. The entry into operational service in the Hellenic Air Force’s 332 Squadron of these first six Rafale aircraft comes as a proof of the quality of the partnership between France and Greece, and occurs only one year after the signature of the contract for 18 aircraft.
“The mastery with which the Hellenic Air Force carried out this first ferry flight is a testimony to the excellence of our cooperation and the strength of our historical relationship with Greece for more than 45 years. Thanks to our mobilization, we were able to meet the expectations of the Greek authorities in record time, who now have the Rafale on national territory to reinforce the protection and sovereignty of the country. It also attests to the outstanding quality of our aircraft, confirmed by its export success. Lastly, it reflects our total commitment to meeting the needs of the HAF and to participating in Greece’s strategic ambitions,” declared Éric Trappier at the end of the ceremony.
It is a testimony to the excellent relation between French and Greek authorities as well as between the Hellenic Air Force and Dassault Aviation teams. The expertise of the training provided, in particular by Dassault Aviation, at the Mérignac Conversion Training Center (CTC), to Greek pilots, mechanics and HAF technicians, undeniably contributes to the success of this first ferry. The training of personnel will continue in the coming months in France and Greece. The delivery of the next HAF Rafale will start at the end of 2022 with the objective to have all the fleet deployed at Tanagra Air Base by the summer of 2023.
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard delta wing, 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. The Rafale is referred to as an “omnirole” aircraft by Dassault. Introduced in 2001, the Rafale is being produced for both the French Air Force and for carrier-based operations in the French Navy. The Rafale has been marketed for export to several countries, and was selected for purchase by the Egyptian Air Force, the Indian Air Force, the Qatar Air Force, the Hellenic Air Force, the Croatian Air Force and the United Arab Emirates Air Force. The Rafale has been used in combat over Afghanistan, Libya, Mali, Iraq and Syria.