Visiting the Capitol, the Greek Prime Minister wants to acquire the F-35 and warns against Turkey

Since the beginning of the 70s, ie even before its accession to the European Union (1981), Athens has always pursued a balanced strategy of equipping its air forces, relying simultaneously on American and French aircraft. In the 70s and 80s, the Mirage F1s evolved under a blue and white cockade alongside the F4 Phantom 2, F5 Tiger II and A7 Corsair 2, while in the 90s, the Hellenic Mirage 2000s completed its fleet of F-16s. Today, the Greek authorities intend to extend this model which gave convincing results to contain the tensions with the Turkish neighbor, by acquiring French Rafales, and by upgrading its F-16s to the latest Block 70 Viper standard. However, Athens does not intend to stop there. On the occasion of his official visit to the United States, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has indeed announced that he intends to acquire a squadron of American F-35 Lighting II to replace some of its F-16s.

According to the Greek head of state, the order will be placed in 2028, with the hope that the first devices will be delivered before the start of the next decade. In addition, Athens is reportedly already discussing with Lockheed Martin to join the Lighting II program as an industrial partner, so as to leverage its aviation industry already heavily engaged in the production and maintenance of exported F-16s. This announcement is in no way surprising, especially since Athens had long indicated that it intended to acquire the new American fighter alongside the French Rafale, as part of the modernization of its air forces, in in particular to contain the threat posed by the Turkish armed forces, and the tensions that have opposed Athens and Nicosia, supported by Paris, against Ankara in recent years.

Athens intends to order a squadron (18 to 24 aircraft) of F-35A in 2028 as part of the modernization of its air forces

However, this official announcement is not without context. Indeed, it comes as the US Congress seemed to have softened its positions on the sanctions imposed on Turkey following the acquisition of S-400 anti-aircraft systems by Ankara, and the severe embargo on American defense technologies. who followed. Thus, until recently, the US Congress was particularly hostile to most Turkish demands for the export of US defense technologies, beyond the exclusion of Ankara from the F-35 program. Thus, the US parliamentarians had announced that they wanted to oppose the request made by the Turkish authorities concerning the acquisition of 40 new F-16 fighter planes to the Block 70 standard, as well as 80 kits to carry as many devices already in service. within the Turkish Air Force towards this standard, all for more than $6 billion. However, because of Turkey's commitment alongside Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict, and Ankara's satisfactory attitude so far within the framework of NATO around this crisis, US lawmakers had hinted that they could consider allowing the resumption of US defense exports to Turkey. And this is precisely what Kyriakos Mitsotakis intends to warn senators and representatives against during his visit to the Capitol.

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