Given the suffocating finances of Athens, priority has been given to meeting the needs of the Air Force. Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, during Sunday’s meeting with journalists, in Thessaloniki, clarified that acquisition of Rafale fighters has to do with 12 used and 6 new aircraft. The aircraft are expected within 2021 with the last arriving in-country during 2022.
This is a type of aircraft that, like the Mirage 2000, is largely unknown to the Turkish Air Force. Its two engines are the latest in technology. Using them, in full capacity, it can exceed the speed of sound without making use of afterburners, thus saving valuable fuel.
The creation of a squadron in combination with the upgrade of F-16s to Viper level and the apparent non-acquisition by Turkey of F-35s will clearly make the Hellenic Air Force dominant not only in the Aegean but also in the Eastern Mediterranean.
The Rafale can carry a wide range of weapons systems, including the Scalp missiles, which are cruise-type air-to-air missiles with a range of more than 500 kilometers and the air-to-air missiles for shooting beyond the METEOR horizon with a range of up to 100 km.
But what makes it a game changer aircraft is its electronic active scanning radar (AESA) that can detect multiple targets simultaneously in the air and on the ground at distances of more than 200 kilometers. It also has a thermal detection system that allows it to detect even stealth aircraft without being detected as it does not emit any kind of energy.
It is equipped with a Link 16 system with which it can transmit in real time all the data collected by its sensors in the Business Centers or other units of ships or aircraft.
It can also act as a flying tanker and refuel aircraft in flight with the appropriate air supply system. Immediate delivery may make them operational within 2021.
There is a view that the capabilities and performance of the Rafale F3R or F4 will be a game-changer in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean. The Rafale will also be able to use the EXOCET and SCALP missiles already in Hellenic Air Force (HAF) inventory.
There is a large following within the HAF that are enthused by the Rafale choice, as the combination of Rafale (taking into account its sensors and radar) with Mica and in the future with Meteor and Mica NG will give a qualitative superiority over its Turkish adversaries while it will be of great value in surgical strike missions with Scalp and maritime attacks with Exocet.
Information so far points to the fact that France is offering very good prices for Rafale (equivalent to the prices paid by the French Air Force) for both the used and the brand new aircraft.
Unverified from the Greek side information published in French media outlets claims that 8 of the second hand Rafales will be transferred to the Hellenic Air Force free of charge, while the other 4 with a 50% discount on the sale price of a new Rrafale. It remains to be seen whether contracts will include, besides aircraft, spare parts, and training issues, which are also included in the French report.