At the back of a probable deal between France and Greece to supply 18 Rafale jets to Athens, Paris has reportedly deployed Charles De Gaulle, its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, amidst escalating tensions in the region.
According to local media reports, the warship, which is named after French statesman and General Charles de Gaulle, “will be accompanied by an unknown number of ships and submarines of the French Navy”.
The warship, which stands as the only other nuclear-powered carrier completed outside of the United States Navy, has been deployed due to Turkish Foreign Ministry’s criticism over France’s “Red Line Policy”
“Those who think they drew a red line in the Eastern Mediterranean are challenging our country’s resolute stance,” a statement issued by the Turkish Foreign Minister said.
Sources suggest that the Charles de Gaulle is “battle-ready” and has departed from the port of Toulon on southern France’s Mediterranean coast. The warship’s combat load is reported to possess a few Rafale jets, maximum-range missiles, anti-submarine arsenal, and advanced electronic tracking, targeting and electronic interception systems.
Recently, as reported by the Eurasian Times, local reports suggested that France completed a deal with Greece to supply 18 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to the Hellenic Air Force which has an existing fleet of Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcons, Dassault Mirage 2000s, and McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The deal is reported to be completed by the end of the year.
The deal is reported to move ahead in two parts, with one being the purchase of 10 new Rafales, while the second being that the remaining jets will be parted as a gift to Athens. Reportedly, the eight Rafales were the jets that bombed the Turkish facilities at the al-Watiya airbase in Libya.
The Dassault Rafale is a French twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole fighter aircraft equipped with a wide range of weapons, the Rafale is intended to perform air supremacy, interdiction, aerial reconnaissance, ground support, in-depth strike, anti-ship strike, and nuclear deterrence missions.
If the deal goes through, the fighters would indeed add tremendous air power in the hands of Greece, as they fight off Turkish forces to challenge for power in the Mediterranean region.
Tensions between Ankara and Athens have soared over recent days after Greece disputed Turkey’s energy exploration in the Eastern Mediterranean as it tries to box in Turkish maritime territory based on small islands near the Turkish coast.
Turkey – the country with the longest coastline on the Mediterranean – has sent out drill-ships to explore for reserves on its continental shelf, saying that Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) have rights in the region.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that his country is not looking for trouble with the Greeks, and that dialogue could be the only solution. “If we act with common sense and reason, we can find a win-win solution that meets everyone’s interests,” he said.