Greece buys six more Rafale fighter jets, frigates from France

ATHENS, March 24 (Reuters) - Greece on Thursday signed deals to buy three Belharra navy frigates and six additional Rafale fighter jets from France to boost its armed forces in response to tension with neighbouring Turkey.

The Rafale fighter jets will be sold to Greece by Dassault Aviation and would be delivered from the summer of 2024, bringing the Hellenic Air Force's fleet to 24 Rafales, the French warplane maker said in a statement.

The orders were signed aboard the retired Greek battleship Averof by the two countries' defence ministers.

"With this acquisition of frigates and fighter jets the firepower of Greece's navy and air force will be strengthened," Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said.

Last September Athens agreed to buy three frigates with an option for a fourth one for about 3.0 billion euros ($3.30 billion).

The accord, part of a broader strategic military and defence cooperation pact, came after an agreement to order 24 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets.

Greek lawmakers in October ratified the defence agreement between Greece and France that will allow the two countries to come to each other's aid in the event of an external threat. read more

Greece and Turkey have been at odds over the extent of their continental shelves and their maritime boundaries, a fact that has hindered any expansion by Athens of its territorial waters to 12 miles (19 km) in the Aegean.

Reporting by George Georgiopoulos, Sarah Morland and Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Catherine Evans and Jonathan Oatis

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