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Greece receives 1st French-made Rafale fighter jet

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published July 21,2021

Greece on Wednesday received the first of 18 French fighter jets, part of a deal inked during elevated tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

After a ceremony at Dassault Aviation flight test center in Istres, France, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said: "The choice of buying the Rafale French fighter jets underlines the strategic character of Greek-French relations and France's undivided support of Greece, before challenges and threats."

Six months ago Greece signed a €2.5 billion ($3.03 billion) deal with France for the purchase of 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets.

Greece is planning to buy six new and 12 secondhand Rafale jets from France and will spend €400 million on related equipment.

Its defense budget is projected to reach around €5.5 billion, more than double last year's spending.

Despite economic hardships, the Mediterranean country spent 2.3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense in 2019.

The purchases come amid higher tensions with Greece's neighbor Turkey, tensions Turkish leaders have blamed on Greek provocations and refusal to fairly share the region's maritime energy resources.

Greece has claimed Turkey is not following the law and has sought to involve the European Union in the dispute.