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

Since the early 70s, even before its accession to the European Union (1981), Athens has always pursued a balanced strategy for equipping its air forces, relying simultaneously on American and French aircraft. In the 70s and 80s, the Mirage F1s flew under a blue and white roundel alongside the F4 Phantom 2, F5 Tiger II and A7 Corsair 2, while in the 90s, the Hellenic Mirage 2000s completed its F-16 fleet. Today, the Greek authorities intend to extend this model which gave convincing results in containing tensions with its Turkish neighbor, by acquiring Rafale French, 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, the 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 already in discussions with Lockheed Martin to join the Lighting II program as an industrial partner, so as to benefit from its aeronautical industry already significantly engaged in the production and maintenance of exported F-16s. This announcement in itself is not surprising, especially since Athens had long indicated that it intended to acquire the new American fighter alongside the Rafale French, as part of the modernization of its air forces, in particular to contain the threat posed by the Turkish armed forces, and the tensions which have pitted Athens and Nicosia, supported by Paris, against Ankara in recent years.

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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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