Panagiotopoulos: Four more Rafales are coming, the second Belharra frigate is being built, waiting for the F-35s

“The intensive effort to strengthen the Armed Forces even more will not stop,” emphasized the Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos.

Speaking today at the official celebration of the Patron Saint of the Air Force Archangel Michael, held at the Ikaron School, in Dekelia, Mr. Panagiotopoulos pointed out:

“Today, on the Air Force Day, they flew two new Rafales that belong to the second six delivered this time to the Air Force”

Speaking to military editors, N. Panagiotopoulos wished “at every celebration of the Air Force we will have one or more new vehicles appearing in the Greek skies”.

“The next four Rafales from the second six will be delivered in the near future, at a rate of about one per month. And it continues,” the Minister of National Defense pointed out.

Modernization of the F-16 Vipers is progressing, pending the F-35s

“The future of the Air Force is set to be bright, since the Rafales are already inducted and the modernization of 83 F-16s to the “Viper” version, the most advanced version in the world today, is progressing rapidly,” Nikos Panagiotopoulos emphasized.

He also noted that “the decision has been made to modernize the F-16 Block 50. Greece has entered the F-35 program, in a few months we are waiting for the response to the LOR we have sent in order for this process to evolve and be continiued”.

“More interdisciplinarity, more network centricity, since in the modern, digital age, the speed of information transmission to the operator and from the operator to other media and other branches is of critical importance, which help him to better perform his mission. And so the Air Force also enters this era”, said N. Panagiotopoulos.

Panagiotopoulos: A second Belharra frigate will soon follow

Regarding the launching ceremony of the first Belharra frigate of the French Navy, which took place yesterday, in the presence of N. Panagiotopoulos, in France, the Minister of National Defense emphasized that “it was a great day for the French Armed Forces, for the French Navy, but with importance also for the Greek Armed Forces, since the second ship follows, which will be on behalf of the Navy”.

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The second frigate, as he said, “is already being built at Group Naval Shipyards, at a rapid pace.” The program is ahead of schedule in terms of delivery. The two ships will be delivered to the Navy at the beginning and end of 2025.”

“So”, he added, “we are on schedule, at a very fast pace, and I had the opportunity to see up close the construction work, the capabilities of this very large ship, especially the digital capabilities it has, since in essence it too is turning into a digital center for transmission and processing of all information, which, as is understandable, creates new possibilities in the tactical environment, the navy and not only, as well as the great possibilities it has in terms of equipment”.

He also stated that he exchanged views “with the Navy Echelon, i.e. the Navy officers who have been in Lorient, France for some time now and closely monitor the entire process, connecting the manufacturing company with companies of the Greek Defense Industry ».

“Already”, he continued, “contracts have been signed to participate in this program which takes place in France, but also involves Greek companies”.

“The strategic relationship with France is evolving. It is proven in these programs that are running quickly and I think the great benefit is that the Armed Forces are being strengthened with the best means, the most modern means, in the air and at sea, and in fact at a fast pace”, explained N. Panagiotopoulos.

We await the final proposals of the French and Italians for the corvettes

Regarding the issue of corvettes, the Minister of National Defense pointed out that “it is a decision that will concern us in the immediate future”.

As he clarified, we are waiting “at the moment for the final proposals of the French and the Italians, who will be in the final selection phase”. “These proposals also have to do with the financing, that is, the repayment program, which we would like to be as favorable as possible, so that we can cover it in our financial planning. They have to do with the delivery schedules and of course with the issue of shipbuilding in Greek or Greek shipyards”, explained the Minister of National Defense.

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“If adequate, satisfactory answers are given to these questions,” he continued, “they will of course be evaluated by the Navy.” “I think we are close to making a decision, certainly before the end of the year on this issue as well,” he said.

Regarding the strategic relationship between Greece and France, Nikos Panagiotopoulos emphasized that with his French counterpart Sébastien Lecornou, they confirmed “the common will” for cooperation, “so that those who desire peace, security and stability in Southeast Europe prevail.”

Panagiotopoulos: Turkey’s insults are daily

“Everyone understands the differences we have, the tension that exists, the challenges, but also the insults,” he explained, and added: “I also talked about insults on an almost daily basis from the neighbors. We would all like to reach a better level of understanding, but to do that the rhetoric will have to change and the tones will have to be lowered.”

He underlined that “our allies are close to us”, while for the French side he clarified that “throughout time, they understood our arguments and were by our side both at the level of policy, but also at the level of actions”.

“All these armaments we are doing with France, the agreement we have signed, the clause of mutual defense assistance that exists in this agreement and they have expressed their opinion to be implemented, if required, I think best of all prove the quality and the depth of this allied relationship”, concluded the Minister of National Defense.

As it was announced, present at the event were the Chief of General Staff, Lt. General Charalambos Lalousis, the Chief of General Staff, Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis, and the Chief of General Staff, Vice Admiral Themistoklis Bourolias.

MPs, foreign Defense Attachés, retired commanders and Air Force officers also attended.

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