The first 6 Rafale fighter jets ordered by Greece in January 2021 will join the 114th combat squadron at the Tanagra base in Boeotia, north of Athens, between January 17 and 19, 2022, barely a year after the first order for 18 aircraft, including 12 used aircraft taken from the Air Force and Space fleet and modernized to the F3R standard by Dassault Aviation, was signed . This air base, close to the facilities of the local industrialist HAI, had previously hosted the Greek F1 mirage from 1973 to 2003, then the 2000-5 mirage of the Hellenic air forces since 2007. The aircraft will arrive directly from Merignac with their crews and aircraft. technical teams currently trained in France.
Although a certain delay will be necessary to make the 6 Rafale, two two-seater Rafale B and four single-seat Rafale C, from the Tanagra air base fully operational, with the construction of new infrastructure dedicated to their maintenance, this rapid delivery undoubtedly marks a major step in the modernization of the Hellenic Air Force, in particular to control the airspace over the Aegean Sea. This is why this arrival will be the subject of a celebration in the presence of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as well as a large number of officials from the Ministry of Defense.
It is undoubtedly a success for the Greek leader, who only two years after his election, can present the first effects of his strategy of modernizing the Greek defense tool, in particular against Turkey, with the command 24 Rafale, 3 FDI frigates, 6 MH-60R anti-submarine warfare helicopters, and negotiations advanced on several other programs, including the one aimed at build 5 modern corvettes in Hellenic shipyards. Athens would also be in talks with Washington to acquire a squadron (18 aircraft?) Of F-35A to complete its air force, and replace the oldest of its F-16 which could not be modernized to the Block70 standard. Viper. In fact, within only a few years, the Greek authorities will have succeeded in significantly modifying the very unfavorable balance of power that existed against the Turkish armies, also benefiting in this area from external factors, such as the economic and monetary collapse of Turkey, and American and European sanctions against Ankara following the military intervention in Syria.
However, there will remain a huge project to deal with for Athens, after the modernization of its fleet and its air forces, to modernize its land forces, and replace the some 5000 armored vehicles of different types today obsolete, such as some 900 Leopard 1 and M48 Patton tanks still in service, or the 4000 or so BMP-1 and M113 armored personnel carriers and derivatives which constitute the bulk of the equipment still in service with the Hellenic ground forces. In total, and to respond to the new format of this one, Athens will have to acquire, in the years to come, between 2000 and 2500 medium armored vehicles, and between 200 and 400 heavy armored vehicles, in order to maintain its dissuasive power against Ankara, which for its part, it has also undertaken a large modernization effort in these areas.
The fact remains that, given its population of only 10 million inhabitants, and its economic weight of barely $ 200 billion, the Greek armed forces manage to maintain and modernize a more than significant military power, aligning more than 140 combat aircraft. , 10 to 12 frigates, 10 attack submarines as well as a mechanized corps of more than 100.000 soldiers and 4500 armored vehicles. This defense effort, which reached 2,8% of GDP for an annual budget of $ 5,5 billion, also remains perfectly under control in the context of the current growth of the Greek economy which is recovering from the very difficult decade of 2010, and which today shows an average growth (excluding covid) of 3,5% per year, while defense questions represent a major subject for many Greeks, who support, in their majority, the efforts of the government in this area , 70% of them believing that Turkey represents a significant military threat for the country.