Hellenic Air Force pilots have already covered their first miles in the sky with new Rafale fighter jets as they continue their training in France.
Earlier this year, Greece had signed a $3-billion deal with Paris for 18 Rafales, in the wake of its conflict with Turkey in the East Mediterranean.
According to a report by the greek portal Pentapostagma, four Greek pilots and ground crews are undergoing training in France on their newly ordered delta-wing aircraft. The pilots have reportedly moved to the “second stage” of training.
The report says that initially the pilots flew with their French trainers, and in the next stage they would be carrying out solo sorties for the familiarity with the Rafales. Three of the four aviators are Mirage pilots and one is an F-16 pilot.
While it is naturally accepted that Mirage pilots would have an easier time operating the Rafale, the progress of the fourth pilot has been equally impressive.
According to the report, the Greek pilots had excelled in their first stage which involved the theoretical lessons, and have “not faced slightest problem in in-aircraft training”. It was attributed to the pilots’ experience gathered during years of operational sorties carried out over the Aegean, maintaining strict and daily vigil against Turkish incursions.
This second stage would involve aerial combat training. This will be conducted initially in small formations that would be gradually increased in terms of complexity.
The report also revealed that these first four pilots would then be given instructor-level training in France who would then train eight trainee HAF pilots on the Rafale.
“The goal is for the first Rafale War Squadron in Greece in 2022, the 332nd ‘Geraki’ Squadron to have twelve pilots ready to fly the first of the total of 18 French fighters that will already be received by the Air Force,” it said.
On January 25, Greek and French defense ministers had signed a contract for the purchase of 18 Dassault-made Rafale fighter jets for €2.5 billion ($3.04 billion). The numbers include 12 second-hand aircraft taken right out of the French inventory and six new ones.