An unnamed Greek government official has told Reuters that the Greek government is currently in talks with several countries for the purchase of new military hardware, including France.
Reuters quotes a government official as saying:
“We are in talks with France, and not only with France, in order to increase our country’s defence potential. Within this framework, there is a discussion which includes the purchase of aircraft.”
However, the official noted that final decisions had yet to be made.
The statement comes shortly after the Greek newspaper Parapolitika reported last week that the Greek and French governments had a “preliminary agreement” for the Greek acquisition of 18 Dassault Rafale multirole aircraft. According to Parapolitika’s sources, 10 of the Rafales will be new build aircraft, with 8 older aircraft to be donated from the French Air Force’s fleet at no cost.
Parapolitika’s story broke shortly after the Turkish Ministry of Defense released a video it claimed was of a mock dogfight that broke out after Turkish F-16s intercepted six Greek F-16s headed towards southern Cyprus. While such mock dogfights are a fairly routine occurrence between Turkish and Greek combat aircraft, it comes during a time of heightened tensions between Turkey and Greece, after Turkey dispatched the Oruc Reis survey ship to waters claimed by both Greece and Turkey following a maritime border deal between Greece and Egypt.
A Turkish frigate escorting the Oruc Reis, the Kemal Reis, was damaged by the Greek frigate Limnos in a ramming incident on 12 August, in what was described by Greek defense sources to Reuters as “an accident“. The Turkish government, however, has accused the ramming of being a provocation.
While Greece and Turkey are longtime rivals, France has recently come to odds with Turkey as well, owing to French support for Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, with Turkey supporting the Libyan Government of National Accord against him. Greece has stated its opposition to the maritime deal struck between Turkey and the GNA in November 2019. With Greece stating that the maritime boundaries ignore the presence of Greek islands in the Mediterranean between the Turkish and Libyan coasts.
While Greece hardly needs the additional motivation to join France in opposing Turkey’s stance in Libya in addition to its current Mediterranean claims, the offer of the Rafales and other hardware would certainly sweeten the deal.