Amid heightened East Med tensions, Greece to spice up army purchases

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Greece’s Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Saturday introduced a “robust” arms buy program amid heightened tensions with Turkey within the Eastern Mediterranean.

“The time has come to reinforce the armed forces … these initiatives constitute a robust programme that will become a national shield,” Mitsotakis stated in a speech within the northern metropolis of Thessaloniki.

Greece will procure along with the 18 Dassault Rafale warplanes, 4 frigates and 4 navy helicopters, while recruiting 15,000 extra troopers over the subsequent 5 years and additional financing its defence trade. Six of the French-made Rafale plane can be new and 12 can be second-hand from the French air drive, with the primary ones anticipated to arrive in Greece in the course of 2021.

The nation already has 40 Mirage F1, 40 Mirage 2000 (to get replaced by the Rafale) and 15 Mirage 2000-5, with 10 extra Mirage-2000 set to be upgraded to 2000-5 customary.

“The program is ambitious, but within the country’s financial possibilities and holistic,” Mitsotakis stated, marking Greece’s largest defence spending in twenty years.

The announcement was welcomed by Paris, with the French Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly tweeting that “This is excellent news for the French aeronautics industry and a first: a European country wants to acquire Rafale fighter jets. The result of an export policy that I have been pursuing with conviction since 2017.”

Mitsotakis’ announcement adopted a gathering with French President Emmanuel Macron at Corsica, throughout a summit with Europe’s Mediterranean leaders. The French chief has overtly backed Athens and Nicosia of their dispute with Ankara over their territorial waters and maritime rights.