A joint bilateral exercise, "Skyros 2021", allowed Greece to take a close look at France's Rafale jets that Athens recently signed a contract for, Greek National Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said on Thursday.
The exercise, which concludes on Friday, includes Greek-French jet formations flying out of Tanagra, the base of the 114 Combat Wing, as well as Navy divisions.
It was "an outstanding opportunity for the two countries to come closer and develop approaches at tactical and operational level, and to also send a clear message of our deterrent force," Panagiotopoulos said. "Over time, we have created with France a stable and constantly evolving frameworok of military collaboration, through which we guarantee, strengthen and establish a safer geopolitical environment in our region," he added.
The exercise was observed by the top leadership of the Greek Armed Forces, the chief of the French Air Force, General Laurent Lherbette, French Ambassador to Athens Patrick Maisonnave, defense attaches from several embassies, and French/Greek journalists.
Ambassador Maisonnave welcomed Greece to the "Rafale Club" and noted that Greece acquired "weapons of superiority and power."
He also said that France shares a common vision with Greece for security in the East Mediterranean that respects sovereign rights of all states without threats and bullying.
Lherbette called Greece "an ally, a partner and a friend" and said he was especially proud that the French fighter jets would be flying in Greece. France's Air Force will also participate in the exercise "Iniochos", which will allow the further exchange of experiences among pilots of both countries, he said.
Aircraft involved in the Skyros exercise include, on Greece's side, Mirage 2000s and F-16s.