Delivery of the first six Hellenic Air Force (HAF) Dassault Rafales to Greece was completed on January 19.
The aircraft were flown from the Dassault Aviation site at Base Aérienne 125 Istres-Le Tubé, France, to the HAF’s Tanagra Air Base, where they were welcomed during a ceremony attended by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accompanied by the Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and Senior Greek officials, along with Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO of Dassault Aviation.
The six F-3R standard aircraft that were flown to Greece comprised Rafale DGs 401 and 402 along with Rafale EGs 410, 411, 412 and 413. They were flown by the first group of HAF pilots to have completed their six months of training on the type with Dassault at its Mérignac Conversion Training Centre in Bordeaux, France. Following a two-hour direct flight to Greece, they performed a flight over the Acropolis of Athens at 1222hrs local time and then continued to Tanagra, where the first Rafale landed about 22 minutes later for the formal reception ceremony
They will enter service with the HAF’s 332 Mira Pantos Kerou (All-Weather Squadron) ‘Geraki’ (Hawk), part of 114 Pteriga Makhis (Combat Wing) at Tanagra. The Squadron currently operates the Mirage 2000BG/EG, but plans to retire the type, which has been in service for 34 years, by mid-2022. Delivery of the next HAF Rafales will begin at the end of 2022 with the intention of having all of the fleet delivered to Tanagra by summer 2023. Meanwhile, training of HAF pilots, mechanics and technicians will continue in the coming months in France and Greece.
The delivery came just a year after Greece had signed a formal contract on January 24, 2021, for 18 Rafales. These comprise an initial six ex-Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace (AAE – French Air and Space Force) aircraft, to be followed by 12 new production examples. The six that have been delivered are the former AAE aircraft, of which 401 is ex-French 305 and 402 is ex-French 306. No previous identities have yet been confirmed for the other four. The first aircraft, 401, had been handed over to the HAF at Istres on July 21, 2021, but until now had remained in France for pilot training.