Greece acquiring 18 French-made  Rafale warplanes amid rising Turkey tensions

Greece is set to acquire 18 French-made Rafale warplanes, four multi-purpose frigates, and four navy helicopters amid tension with Turkey over hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday.

The country would also be recruiting 15,000 new troops over the next five years and pouring resources into the national arms industry and cyber-attack defence as part of the country’s new weapons procurement programme, Greek newspaper Kathimerini cited the Greek prime minister as saying.

The announcement arrives during a new bout of tensions with neighbouring Turkey over overlapping claims on hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean. Last month, Turkey dispatched the seismic survey vessel Oruş Reis to an area of sea claimed by both sides, saying it will operate there until the end of the month, in a move that has enraged Athens, prompting it to deploy its own warships to shadow the Turkish vessels.

"The time has come to reinforce the armed forces... these initiatives constitute a robust program that will become a national shield," Mitsotakis said, adding that  new anti-tank weapons, navy torpedoes, and airforce missiles would be secured.

Greece will also be upgrading another existing four frigates as part of the programme, which aims to create thousands of jobs, Mitsotakis added.

Athens is set to announce more information on the cost of the programme and origin of the weapons purchases in a news conference  to be held on Sunday, new anti-tank weapons, navy torpedoes, and airforce missiles will be secured, the Greek prime minister said.

The programme, which includes upgrades of another existing four frigates, is designed to create thousands of jobs, he said.