Greece’s government said on Thursday it will pay 2.32 billion euros ($2.8 billion) for the purchase of 18 French-made Rafale fighter jets and an upgrade of compatible missiles, under a major military overhaul amid tensions with neighboring Turkey.
The acquisition of French fighter jets will take place gradually within the next three years.
Delivery of the 18 jets will begin in mid-2021 and be completed over two years, government spokesman Stelios Petsas said.
The Greek Air Force will receive the first six warplanes at the end of 2021 while the next six will be delivered at the end of 2022. In the summer of 2023, the Air Force expects to have a total of 18 Rafale aircraft at its disposal.
The first four Greek pilots of the Air Force will go to France at the beginning of the new year in order to be trained.
Greece has earmarked 11.5 billion euros ($14.1 billion) to modernize its armed forces over five years amid deteriorating relations with NATO ally Turkey over offshore energy rights in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Rafale jets will include 12 aircraft currently in service with the French military and six new planes to be built by Dassault Aviation.
“This action will shift the balance of forces in the air,” Petsas said, without making any direct reference to Turkey.
As part of the airforce upgrade, Greece will also purchase Meteor air-to-air missiles, compatible with the Rafale jets.