Updated February 11th, 2024 at 10:14 IST
Greece to Sell Older Mirage 2000 Jets to India at a Discount as PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis' Visit Nears
Greek defence officials are negotiating with Indian counterparts to sell these aircraft at discounted rates, per a local report.
Athens: The Greek Air Force (HAF) is considering selling its retired Dassault Aviation Mirage 2000 EGM/BGM planes, decommissioned in 2022, to India in a bid to acquire funds for purchasing Rafale Fighter jets. According to local media reports, negotiations are underway between Greek defence officials and their Indian counterparts for the sale of these aircraft to India. Also as per the reports, Greece is looking to sell them off at a discounted rate.
Interestingly, on Wednesday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar exchanged views on key regional issues with Greece's National Security Advisor, Athanasios Ntokos. As per a PTI report, during the meeting, the Indian EAM stated that the key regional issues are very much aligned with our strategic partnership.
Additionally, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is scheduled to visit India soon, within the month of February itself, aiming to strengthen the relationship between the two countries. This follows Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's historic visit to Greece last year. During that visit, India and Greece upgraded their relationship to a 'Strategic Partnership' and held discussions on various areas of cooperation, including connectivity and maritime collaboration. Greece's Piraeus port could become crucial for trade and connectivity between India, the Middle East, and Europe.
The Greek Mirage Fleet and India's Strategic Cannibalisation Plan
Returning to the topic of the Greek Mirages, before their retirement, these planes belonged to the 332 Squadron ‘Hawks’ of the HAF 114 Combat Wing, based at Tanagra Air Base near Athens. Greece acquired these 18 Mirage 2000 planes in the late 1980s, and they were officially retired in January 2022 when Greece procured new Dassault Rafale fighters. India has previously expressed interest in purchasing older Mirages from different countries, even though not all of them may be airworthy. India might use them for spare parts for its own Mirage 2000H/I fleet; in simpler terms, India might cannibalise these Mirages to keep its own fleet flying.
The Greek Air Force also operates newer Mirage 2000-5 planes flown by the 331 Squadron ‘Theseus’. These planes are intended for air battles. However, there are challenges in keeping them updated with modern communication systems. Plans to enhance communication with other aircraft using Link-16 terminals are currently on hold due to concerns about cost and effectiveness. With uncertainties surrounding a mid-life overhaul, these planes might also end up in India.
Military cooperation between the two nations has seen a notable upswing in recent years. One such instance is INIOCHOS-23, where the active involvement of the Indian Air Force in the multinational air exercise conducted by the Hellenic Air Force served as evidence of the strengthening of bilateral military and defence ties between the two countries.
Greek Plans for Rafale
Returning to Greece, the country decided to purchase 18 Rafale jets from France in January 2021. Twelve of them were pre-owned, while six were new. They also acquired weapons like Exocet anti-ship missiles and SCALP cruise missiles. Greece sought these jets urgently due to tensions with Turkey in the Eastern Mediterranean. Subsequently, in March 2022, Greece ordered six more new Rafale jets. They plan to acquire up to 40 of these jets by 2025. The sale of Mirage 2000 jets could help finance the procurement of more Rafale jets.
Greece also has plans to acquire 40 Lockheed Martin F-35A fifth-generation fighters at a cost of around $8.6 billion.
Published February 8th, 2024 at 17:26 IST