A statement by the General Staff of the Air Force was issued after recent reports of problems and delays in the upgrade of the F-16 fighter jets.
The General Staff of the Air Force clarified the following:
- The F-16 aircraft upgrade program includes the upgrade of aircraft systems to VIPER configuration, which will take about 8 years, with the last aircraft deliveries in 2027. The upgrade works will be carried out at Hellenic Aerospace Industry.
- Work on the first F-16's, which will also be the original upgrade aircraft, began in January 2020 at the Hellenic Aerospace Industry facilities and continues according to schedule without deviations.
This is part of the modernisation of the Greek Air Force that will also include the acquisition of new aircrafts.
Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, in January revealed that Greece plans to acquire 24 F-35 aircrafts at a total cost of $3 billion, upgrade 82 F-16 fighter jets, and purchase war ships. The announcement was made following the official visit of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the White House.
"Someday Greece will also go to the 5th generation aircraft that has unique characteristics, the so-called stealth that is not detected by hostile radars but also has some formidable capabilities in terms of its electronic and weapon systems. Greece will, anyway, like the other countries, go to this 5th generation aircraft. The way we insist on doing this is firstly to upgrade the F-16 fleet to something between the 4th and 5th generations," Panagiotopoulos said.
"When we are finished we will have upgraded the bulk of our planes, 82 to 84 F-16s, to the most up-to-date type for this type of aircraft, and have begun the process of acquiring the F-35s," he said.
He underlined that "at the same time, we will have complemented the Mirage fleet because of their special features and the special weapons they carry, which is a type of necessity."
Greek fighter pilots have won in consecutive years the "Best Warrior" award in competitions that only NATO members can participate in.
Meanwhile, as reported by Greek City Times, an aviation expert reviewed footage of a Greek pilot dog fighting with a Turkish jet violating Greek airspace, and said the Greek pilot "owned" the Turkish one. See the video here.