France confirms emergency order of 12 Rafale fighters
It was expected: the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly confirmed the order of 12 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to replace the second-hand aircraft France sold to Greece.
Facing rising tensions with Turkey, the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced in mid-September 2020 that six new and 12 used Rafales F3R would be acquired. The order was finalized between the two ministers in Athens, Greece on January 25, 2021. The deduction of the fighter jets from the French Air Force fleet allowed a faster and cheaper procurement for Greece, which became the first European customer of the aircraft.
But it was also a setback for the capability of the French Air Force. The objective was to raise the number of Rafale fighters, the backbone of the force, to 129 jets by 2025, from 102 currently.
Consequently, Florence Parly approved the order on January 29, 2021. The French procurement agency (DGA) should finalize the contract by the end of February 2021. If all goes according to plan, the French Air Force should receive the 12 Rafales in 2025, thus meeting its objective.
Currently, Dassault Aviation assembles one Rafale per month. A ramp-up of the production output is however not excluded, as India reportedly showed interest in a second batch of 36 French fighter jets.
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