Greece to acquire 18 French-made Rafale jets as Turkey tension rises

A French Rafale fighter jet demonstrates the interception of a Belgian air force transport plane as they fly over France. (File photo: Reuters)

Greece is set to acquire 18 French-made Rafale warplanes, four multi-purpose frigates, and four navy helicopters amid tension with Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced.

Mitsotakis on Saturday announced the "robust" arms purchase program and an overhaul of the country's military.

For all the latest headlines, follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

"The time has come to reinforce the armed forces... these initiatives constitute a robust program that will become a national shield," the PM said in a keynote address in the northern city of Thessaloniki.

Mitsotakis said Greece would also recruit 15,000 new troops and pouring resources into the national arms industry and cyber-attack defense.

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) opens the plenary session of the seventh MED7 Mediterranean countries summit with (From L) Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiadis, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on September 10, 2020 in Porticcio, Corsica. (AFP)

French President Emmanuel Macron (C) opens the plenary session of the seventh MED7 Mediterranean countries summit with (From L) Malta's Prime Minister Robert Abela, Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Cyprus President Nikos Anastasiadis, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, on September 10, 2020 in Porticcio, Corsica. (AFP)

New anti-tank weapons, navy torpedoes, and airforce missiles will be secured, the PM said.

The program, which includes upgrades of another existing four frigates, is also designed to create thousands of jobs, he said.

More details on the cost of the program and origin of the weapons purchases will be announced at a news conference Sunday, a government source told AFP.

Read more:

Erdogan warns France’s Macron not to ‘mess with Turkey’ over eastern Mediterranean

Turkey says it will conduct live fire naval exercises off Cyprus coast

Turkey says EU statement biased, ‘detached from reality’; open to talks with Greece

Mitsotakis is believed to have hammered out the program after talks with French President Emmanuel Macron during a southern European leaders summit in Corsica this week.

In contrast to other EU and NATO allies, France has strongly backed Greece in its burgeoning showdown with Turkey, as well as Cyprus.

Macron has told Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to cross "red lines" and has sent warships and fighter jets to the region.

Turkey in August sent an exploration ship and a small navy flotilla to conduct seismic research in waters which Greece considers its own under postwar treaties.

Greece responded by shadowing the Turkish flotilla with its own warships, and by staging naval exercises with several EU allies and the United Arab Emirates in its own show of force.

Turkey "threatens" Europe's eastern border and "undermines" regional security, Mitsotakis said Saturday.

SHOW MORE
Last Update: Saturday, 12 September 2020 KSA 21:07 - GMT 18:07
Top