Greece is making a formal request for the purchase of a number of advanced F-35 fighter jets from the United States. The decision for their acquisition was signed in Athens on Wednesday and the Letter of Request is expected to be sent in the next hours, media reported.
While yesterday the Biden administration threw its support on Wednesday behind the potential sale of U.S. F-16 fighter jets to Turkey, a day after Ankara lifted a veto of NATO membership for Finland and Sweden.
Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary for Defense for International Security Affairs at Pentagon, told reporters on a call that strong Turkish defence capabilities would reinforce NATO’s defences.
“The United States supports Turkey’s modernization of its fighter fleet because that is a contribution to NATO security and therefore American security,” she said.
While Athens had already made its intentions known during Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ visit to Washington in May month, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and the chief of the National Defense General Staff, Konstantinos Floros, are expected to travel to the US on July 28.
Note that in December 2021, the US Congress passed the US-Greece Defense and Inter-parliamentary Partnership Act opening the way for the purchase of F-35 fighter jets in the future by Greece.
In January 2020, it was Defense Minister Panagiotopoulos who had revealed the acquisition of 24 F-35s for 3 billion US Dollars.
According to SKAI TV, Greece is requesting the purchase of 20 F35 aircraft, as previously announced by the Prime Minister, and of another 20 jets under condition.
The immediate start of the procedures for the acquisition of F-35 aircraft was announced by the Minister of National Defense Nikos Panagiotopoulos in the aftermath of the Prime Minister’s visit to the USA.
The Minister of National Defense had a meeting a month ago with executives of the program Joint Strike Fighter Program Office for the F-35 fighter aircraft.
Panagiotopoulos had stated that the General Staff will take the necessary actions, in the context of the current procedure for the supply of defence equipment.
During the meeting, it was stressed that the acquisition of F-35 aircraft, which will further strengthen the country’s deterrence capability and the interoperability of the Greek and US Armed Forces, reflects the strategic level of bilateral defence relations.
Athens is reportedly focusing on buying 24 F-35 stealth fighters.
After the Letter of Requisition has been sent, Greece will reportedly wait for the response of the American side regarding the availability, the cost as well as the delivery schedule.
The process is time-consuming, however, both sides are determined to complete it within the next year.
With the positive response of the USA to the Greek request, the processes of concluding the agreement will begin and then the production, the training of the pilots and the technical staff.
If everything goes to plan the delivery of the new 5th generation fighters will be flying in 2028 in Greece.
At the same time, work must be done on upgrading the infrastructure of the Combat Wing that will house the new fighters.