ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek lawmakers in a vote Thursday approved a defense procurement program to purchase 18 French-made Rafale fighter planes, part of an armaments plan announced by the government in September.
Greece has earmarked 11.5 billion euros ($14 billion) for the modernization of its armed forces over the next five years, at a time of increased tension with neighboring Turkey.
Relations between the two NATO members, often strained, deteriorated sharply last year, with warships facing off in the eastern Mediterranean in a dispute over maritime boundaries and energy rights.
Delivery of the 18 Rafale jets — 12 currently in service in France and six new planes to be built by Dassault Aviation — is scheduled to begin mid-year and to be completed over two years. The jets and the purchase of compatible air-to-air Meteor missiles are expected to cost 2.3 billion euros ($3.4 billion).