France-based military aircraft developer Dassault Aviation has shipped the first six Rafale fighter aircraft being acquired by the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) to the Tanagra Air Base in Greece.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, accompanied by National Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and other authorities, welcomed the jets.

The six Rafale aircraft’s arrival in Greece comes after the country signed a deal with France to acquire 18 jets in December 2020.

The deal had a combined value of €1.92bn ($2.18bn), with Greece also expected to pay a further €400m for associated equipment.

Dassault Aviation said that the aircraft’s entry into operational service of the HAF’s 332nd Squadron showcases the strong partnership between the two nations.

Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier said: “The mastery with which the Hellenic Air Force carried out this first ferry flight is a testimony to the excellence of our cooperation and the strength of our historical relationship with Greece for more than 45 years.

“Thanks to our mobilisation, we were able to meet the expectations of the Greek authorities in record time, who now have the Rafale on national territory to reinforce the protection and sovereignty of the country.

“It also attests to the outstanding quality of our aircraft, confirmed by its export success. Lastly, it reflects our total commitment to meeting the needs of the HAF and to participating in Greece’s strategic ambitions.”

Dassault Aviation has also provided training to HAF pilots and technicians at the Conversion Training Centre (CTC) in Mérignac, France.

The training will continue for the next few months in both France and Greece.

Dassault Aviation has delivered more than 10,000 military and civil aircraft, including 2,500 Falcons, in more than 90 countries to date.

The company employs 12,440 people and reported revenues of €5.5bn in 2020.