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Exports delay modernisation of French armed forces

The delivery of 12 used Rafale fighters to Greece began on 21 July, for which the French air force will be compensated with 12 new ones. (Dassault Aviation/C Cosmao)

France has been increasing the number of export contracts in recent months, favouring transfers of equipment promised to the French air force and navy.

For example, the sale of 24 Rafale fighters to Greece and Croatia has resulted in their removal from operational service with French air force squadrons. These second-hand aircraft will take a year to be upgraded for export customer requirements.

The 12 used Rafales are being delivered to Greece, for which the French air force will be compensated with 12 new ones to be delivered by Dassault Aviation in 2024–25. The aircraft destined for Croatia will be withdrawn soon, but at this stage their replacement is not yet planned.

France has already in the past sold aircraft in air force service to Brazil – 12 Mirage 2000s, including two twin-seaters – but they were not as necessary as the Rafales currently in service with the French air force, which has far fewer fighters in service than it did at the beginning of the century.

France also favours the fast delivery of three Frégate de Défense et d'Intervention (FDI) mid-size frigates to Greece. The first two will be delivered in 2025 instead of to the French Navy, as was originally planned after the delivery of its first FDI in 2024. The service's own modernisation will therefore be delayed by several years, despite Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly's clear indication by accelerating the programme last spring that these ships were intended for the French Navy.

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