New weapons systems, modernization of old ones, reorganization of military branches and thousands of recruitments, the moves by Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos are putting the Armed Forces into a new era.
Looking at the latest opinion polls on the popularity of government ministers, we find that citizens are ultimately the best judge and certainly the fairest, at least most of the time.
According to the latest data, the top minister is Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.
We could rightly say this since the Corfu-born politician managed to diplomatically crush Turkey and at the same time conclude cooperation with “key” countries in the Eastern Mediterranean region, strengthening the geopolitical position of our country.
In second place we see Minister of Digital Government Kyriakos Pierrakakis, a minister that when Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced his appointment, most of us had to search Google to find out who he is.
However, his work and especially his reform work in the Ministry of Digital Government is recognized by the citizens.
In third place we see the Minister of Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos.
And how can the Panagiotopoulos, from Kavala, not be in a top positions.
Panagiotopoulos has been called upon to manage successive crises with Turkey in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, while at the same time he has set a goal to radically change the Armed Forces.
It is a fact that since last February, the head of the political leadership of the Greek military has not found a quiet day.
He was initially called upon to manage the migrant crisis in Evros and Turkey’s asymmetric threat through the attempted invasion of thousands of immigrants into Greek territory.
The crisis of July followed, when the Turks began to deploy warships en masse from the Aksaz Naval Base, heading towards the sea area between Rhodes and Kastellorizo.
The immediate actions of the leadership of the Navy and the General Staff and the rapid and dynamic decision-making by Panagiotopoulos, forced the Turks to retreat, seeing the Aegean filled with Greek warships in a naval formation.
But even then, during the crisis with Oruç Reis, Panagiotopoulos, in excellent cooperation with the military leadership, managed to send dynamic responses to Ankara.
Turkey was faced with an organized military determined, politically and military, for any eventuality.
Panagiotopoulos, however, was not left alone to repel the Turkish attacks, resting on the laurels of the successes of 2020.
From the first moment of the crisis in Evros, Panagiotopoulos and the Chiefs of Staff set the priority of upgrading the existing military hardware and of course the supply of new, modern equipment where required.
The Air Force now acquires the powerful Rafale fighter jets, upgrades the F-16 fighter jets to Viper class, and receives spare parts for the Mirage 2000-5.
At the same time, it has shown interest in the best aircraft in the world, the F-35 .
The Navy will proceed with the purchase of new frigates, with the French and Americans being in the final stretch of the critical race to change the basic strike units of the Greek Fleet.
The French Minister of Defense is coming to Athens with a new improved proposal later this month, with the political and military leadership immediately opening all the files and the final choice of the country that will undertake to create the new Greek frigate.
At the same time, the market for Romeo anti-submarine helicopters is “running”.
These are the best helicopters in the world in anti-submarine warfare, equipped with sonar and high-tech electronic devices, self-defense systems and great autonomy.
With the purchase of these helicopters, Greece acquires a clear lead in the “silent war” over the islands, with the total cost of Romeo reaching $295 million.
The agreement for the acquisition of 36 new German heavy-duty torpedoes for the state-of-the-art Type 214 submarines is also in progress.
The agreement also envisages modernization of some of the old SUT torpedoes that Greek submarines already have since the 1980s.
As for the Army, it will receive its significant share, since it is also the backbone of the Armed Forces.
It is pointed out that the Army already has state-of-the-art weapons systems, however, this does not mean that there is no need for new “smart” weapons of advanced technology or for upgrading the old ones.
At the top of the agenda is the change of the national rifle and the national vehicle, with the G3 gradually withdrawing and the legendary Mercedes finally giving way to new ones.
Also, the acquisition of more than 1,000 M1117 armors is proceeding immediately .
At the same time, one of the weapon systems for which the General Staff of the Army has expressed intense interest is the Israeli anti-tank missiles Spike, with Greece being interested in the newer version, the Spike NLOS.
This is a multi-purpose weapon and not only anti-tank, which changes the balance due to its long range.
With absolute professionalism and admirable composure, the Armed Forces have managed not only to dominate the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean against the brazen and provocative Turks, but also to cause a nervous breakdown in the neighbors.
This fact is clearly credited to the military leadership and all the personnel of the Armed Forces, however, the praise should be given to Panagiotopoulos.
Panagiotopoulos quietly and methodically, with decisive moves and collaborations with players, has made our country a key factor in developments in the Eastern Mediterranean.