- Towards a new “hidden” multi-million-euro deal, while…
- We don’t have transport aircraft. On “good days”, we have two of them flying…
- Same situation with helicopters. Just two Super Puma fly…
- Incidents of long delays in airlifting patients or injured from islands have become a daily occurrence due to these shortages and in some cases, people have died…
- And the Greek government is discussing the acquisition of another VIP aircraft from France.
By Paris Karvounopoulos
Not long ago, a slightly used Falcon VIP aircraft was purchased by the French company Dassault. The Greek government in complete secrecy proceeded in the first half of 2021 to purchase a Falcon 7X VIP aircraft from the French company Dassault, the manufacturer of the M-2000/-5 and Rafale fighter aircraft. With the revelation of the purchase, “government circles” were quick to claim that the aircraft was supposedly a “gift” from the French for the purchase of the Rafale. The truth is that Greek taxpayers were charged at least €22 million for the purchase of the Falcon 7X.
The issue had come to the Greek Parliament through a question from the PASOK-KINAL party in October 2021. It referred to the fact that “the recent procurement process of the Rafale fighter jets, which began earlier this year, was not accompanied by such procurement, nor by a corresponding donation. Similarly, no industrial return was foreseen as a result of the enormous cost of procuring the Rafale fighter jets… Finally, inform the Parliament and the Greek people not to deliberately let falsehoods or half-truths leak. Given that our country’s fleet of VIP aircraft consists of three (3) aircraft, a Gulfstream V, an ERJ-135BJ, and an ERJ-135LR Legacy, it is estimated that we do not need a fourth.”
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The aircraft was lightly used. It was built in 2017 and when it was acquired it had 1246 flight hours and 359 landings. Needless to say, since it joined the “Greek VIP aircraft fleet”, it has logged many, many flight hours, since almost all ministers wanted to “go for a ride” with the new aircraft.
The demand was so high that the Prime Minister’s office was forced to issue “instructions” for the “beneficiaries” of flights with the Falcon 7X. According to these, the aircraft can be used by the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and National Defense. However, the use of the VIP Falcon 7X was more than frequent. As a result, the aircraft “suffered a breakdown” in Beijing, and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was forced to return to Greece using a commercial flight via Istanbul.
The demand from ministers for VIP flights is high, but that does not justify the intention of the Greek government to proceed with the purchase of another VIP aircraft, once again from the French company Dassault. As paradoxical as it may sound, there are discussions about acquiring another Falcon, either the 6X or the 8X, with the cost of the purchase reaching up to 70 million euros, as sources that “noticed” the intentions for a new purchase of a VIP aircraft have informed Data Journalists.
Just like in the case of purchasing the used Falcon 6X, there is absolute silence and secrecy. Sources from the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS), the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), and the Directorate General of Defense Investments and Armaments (DGDIA), contacted by the Data Journalists, stated that they do not know the intention to purchase another VIP aircraft. Similar to the last VIP aircraft purchase case, it appears that the matter is being handled from “very high up”, and all those who should know about such a purchase are pointing towards the Maximos Mansion.
Investigating the case for the possible purchase of another VIP aircraft by the Greek government, an interesting revelation has emerged. Whether it is connected to the new VIP remains a question that seeks an answer. It concerns a mysterious and secret flight of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis from The Hague to Paris, where he landed at Bourget airport.
The Prime Minister’s schedule for December 8, as officially announced, included a tour in Thessaly and from there, a flight with the VIP aircraft to The Hague in the Netherlands, where he had a meeting with the acting Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte.
After the meeting, however, he did not return to Athens. He flew to Paris where he stayed for a very short time and then returned to Athens on December 9. The flights, especially the “mysterious deviation” to Paris, have been recorded. The Greek Falcon that transported the Prime Minister remained at the Bourget base for about 25 minutes.
Obviously, no one can connect the issue of the potential purchase of a new VIP aircraft with the flight of the prime ministerial aircraft to the City of Light. However, a serious institutional issue arises, concerning the given obligation of every government to announce the movements of the Prime Minister, precisely to avoid misunderstandings and comments. Just as with the return from Beijing, where he was forced to return on a commercial flight, the same level of secrecy was maintained with the flight to Paris, a level of secrecy that is not permitted in any serious European country.
The use of three VIP aircraft and the potential acquisition of a fourth extremely expensive aircraft is an excess that disturbs. Greece needs one or at most two such aircraft for “emergency needs” or to cover the Prime Minister’s requirements. However, having four aircraft for a country the size and economic need of Greece is an exaggeration that is very difficult to comprehend.
Furthermore, in these times where prices are soaring higher than even the VIP, and with the aerial resources of the Greek Armed Forces being grounded, it is at least paradoxical to even discuss the acquisition of an ultra-luxurious aircraft. The level of luxury is evident in the video.
We don’t need to remind that the cost burdening the public funds is not only related to the purchase of the aircraft. Even heavier is the cost of its maintenance. As an example, for the VIP aircraft Falcon 7X that we have, a 4-year maintenance agreement has been signed. According to the official announcement, it was agreed “following negotiations between the Hellenic Air Force and the manufacturing company Dassault Aviation, a four-year contract for the provision of services for the “Continued Airplane Support (CAS)” of the aircraft (A/F) Falcon 7X S/N 273 of the Hellenic Air Force, with a total budgeted amount of 13,352,853.00 euros, including 6.2476% retentions and exempted VAT.”
Additionally, just for the training of eight pilots, we will pay 1.5 million euros for the next three years.