Greece on Wednesday received the first of 18 French fighter jets, part of a deal inked during elevated tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.
After a ceremony at Dassault Aviation flight test center in Istres, France, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said: "The choice of buying the Rafale French fighter jets underlines the strategic character of Greek-French relations and France's undivided support of Greece, before challenges and threats."
Six months ago Greece signed a €2.5 billion ($3.03 billion) deal with France for the purchase of 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets.
Greece is planning to buy six new and 12 secondhand Rafale jets from France and will spend €400 million on related equipment.
Its defense budget is projected to reach around €5.5 billion, more than double last year’s spending.
Despite economic hardships, the Mediterranean country spent 2.3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defense in 2019./aa