Defense Minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, revealed Greece’s armament plans following the official visit of Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to the White House. Greece plans to acquire 24 F-35 aircraft at a total cost of 3 billion USD including the infrastructure, proceed with the upgrade of 82 F-16 and possible purchase war ships and war material,Panagiotopoulos revealed. He added that there will be negotiations between the US Pentagon and the Greek side about the acquisition of war ships.
Speaking to Skai TV on Thursday morning, the Greek Defense Minister said that the F-35 issue was raised by Greece in an effort to achieve “air superiority over Turkey” in the coming years.
The acquisition of F-35 will follow the upgrade of fighter jets F-16 Viper, he clarified.
Referring to negotiations as a time-consuming procedure, he estimated that the acquisition of F-35 would begin after 2024.
The upgrade of 82-84 F-16 into the Viper version is to “start in these days” and is expected to last some 7 to 8 years.
“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.”
The Defense Minister seemed certain that Turkey will not manage to acquire F-35 and that the Greek Air Force fleet will be superior to the one of the neighboring country.
On the possibility of acquiring ships and other war material, Minister Panagiotopoulos said that there are proposals to be discussed between the US Pentagon and the Greek side, and that these will be examined in detail by each sector in the coming period.
“There are two ways to obtain war material, either through the direct sales process and/or through the surplus of the US defense material,” Panagiotopoulos said.
PS No wonder that President Trump will never urge his friend Erdogan to refrain from creating tension in the East Mediterranean Sea. “Tension” mean nothing else than “boosting arms sales.”