Greece turns to the F-35A to complement its air power

If for the majority of European countries, the greatest threat comes, to date, from Russia, Greece, for its part, must face a latent conflict with Turkey for several decades, and revived in recent years by the territorial and maritime ambitions of President RT Erdogan. And if the Europeans know they can count on the support of the United States and the US Air Force against Moscow, Athens for its part knows that the United States, but also a majority of European countries, first and foremost Germany, and with the notable exception of France, will not intervene in the event of a deterioration in tensions with Ankara. In fact, the Greek armed forces cannot afford to make certain capacity impasses potentially filled by a supposed ally, as is the case with the Europeans. Under these conditions, and no surprise since it was announced for several years, the request for information sent by the Greek authorities to the American Foreign Military Sales for 20 F25A, plus an option for 20 additional devices, is fully in line with this perspective.

Athens had already submitted a request for 18 F-35As and 6 optional aircraft 2 years ago, but this was politely rejected by Washington, considering that the process to export the Lightning 2 was complex and required several successive steps. In fact, it is likely that this request had come up against the systematically cautious attitude of the United States when tensions between Ankara and Athens were at their highest, so as not to lend the flank to some form of support for any of its NATO allies. While attention is now focused on Russia and the war in Ukraine, and Ankara will most likely have obtained, by authorizing the entry of Finland and Sweden into NATO, the lifting of certain sanctions from the United States such as the acquisition of F-16V and the import of F-414 turbojet engines in order to continue the development of the TFX program, it is now likely that Washington will respond favorably to the request from Athens, as much as the country's financial situation continues to improve, giving credibility to Greek demand.

Athens ordered 2021 Rafale F24R combat aircraft in 3, and intends to acquire a second squadron of the French aircraft by the end of the decade.

For the Hellenic Air Force, it is a question of replacing the F-4 Phantom 2 still in service by 2028, in a major effort to modernize its fighter with the acquisition of 40 F-35A, but also 40 Rafale aircraft and the modernization of 85 F-16s to the Block 70+ Viper standard. The modernization of Lockheed-Martin's single-engine fighters was started in 2018 and carried out directly by the Hellenic aeronautical industry, while in 2021, Athens successively ordered 18 then 6 Rafale combat aircraft from France, knowing that the Greek authorities have already announced their intention to acquire a second squadron of French aircraft, for a total fleet of 40 aircraft by the end of the decade. In this context, the arrival of some forty F-35As will effectively complete the operational panoply of the Hellenic Air Force, in particular for the elimination of enemy anti-aircraft defenses thanks to the stealth of the aircraft, and to optimize the efficiency of the F-16V thanks to its numerous sensors and its information processing capabilities. The Rafale, for its part, provides deep strike, interception and naval strike capabilities far superior to those of the F-35A, while the F-16V, for its part, provides a more than significant operational mass. for a country of only 10 million people.

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