The Defence Ministry's armaments bill was approved by 276 deputies at a plenary vote held on Thursday evening.
It was voted through by ruling New Democracy, main opposition party SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance, Movement for Change (KINAL) and Greek Solution. The Greek Communist Party and MeRA25 rejected the bill.
Parliamentary approval allows Greece to proceed with procuring 18 French-made Rafale fighter jets, 12 aircraft currently in service with the French military and six new planes to be built by Dassault Aviation.
General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece, Dimitris Koutsoumpas, explained that his party voted against the bill because "the supply of these fighter jets is part of the needs of NATO planning and not in the context of defending our national sovereignty."
Greece is scheduled to receive the Rafale fighter jets in three instalments:
- The first 6 used aircraft by June 2021 (6 months after contract signing)
- 6 new aircraft on the 20th such month
- The final 6 used jets are to be received on the 26th month (in 2023)
Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos called on all parties and parliament committees to monitor the implementation of the contracts.
The minister also expressed his hope that Greece's armaments industry will soon be able to take on the task of maintaining the fighter jets and their on-board weapons systems itself.
Undoubtedly, the French-made Rafale fighter jet is an advantage to the Greek Air Force as it is a 4th generation aircraft, a generation more advanced than the F-16, which first flew as a prototype in 1973.