Greece to Seek F-35 and F-16V Purchases — Turkey Expected to Respond With Orders for Russian Fighters
Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos has stated that his country intends to purchase a squadron of Lockheed Martin F-35 fifth generation stealth fighters, and has parallel plans to upgrade part of its existing F-16C fleet to the F-16V ‘4+ generation’ standard.
F-16 upgrades are expected to conclude before the end of 2028, and will equip the fighters with new AESA radars, avionics and electronic warfare systems ensuring they will remain viable against modern threats.
Athens has long perceived neighbouring Turkey, a fellow NATO member, as its leading potential adversary, and the Turkish Air Force has previously planned to acquire over 100 F-35 fighters including F-35B vertical landing capable jets for its navy.
Turkey is also attempting to develop an indigenous fifth generation fighter with Russian assistance under the TF-X program, which is expected to be superior to the F-16V but less capable than the F-35.
Turkey has also recently acquired the Russian S-400 surface to air missile system, which has shifted the balance of power in the air drastically in its favour. Built to engage high end stealth fighters such as the F-22 Raptor, which are considerably stealthier, faster and more manoeuvrable than the F-16 and boast superior electronic warfare systems, the platform is capable of neutralising up to 80 targets simultaneously.
The F-16, now in its 42nd year in service, is highly vulnerable to this new hypersonic weapons system. It remains uncertain on what scale Greece intends to purchase the F-35, which is considerably more survivable against long ranged attacks, or how it will afford to operate the high maintenance jets.
A Greek F-35 purchase risks prompting Turkey to accelerate plans to acquire the Su-57 and other high-end Russian equipment, meaning the U.S. may be cautious about approving sales the fighters to the small European state.
The F-35 is expected to replace increasingly obsolete jets such as the F-4E and Mirage 2000 in frontline service in the Greek Air Force.
Source: Military Watch