First 2 Upgraded F-16Vs Reach Greece Even as U.S. Dithers on Turkish Jets' Modernization

  • Bureau
  • 06:14 AM, September 13, 2022
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First 2 Upgraded F-16Vs Reach Greece Even as U.S. Dithers on Turkish Jets' Modernization
Greek F-16V fighter

The first pair of modernized F-16 Viper fighter jets was delivered to Greece’s Air Force at Tanagra air base on Monday, while its arch rival Turkey is yet to get a nod from the U.S. to buy new F-16s and upgrade existing aircraft.

Greece’s 83-strong fleet of F-16 Block 52+ and Block 52+ Advanced jets are being modernized to the Block 72 variant, the most advanced version in service, under a $1.5 billion program. These jets will be refitted with advanced electronics, radar and weapons capabilities by late 2027 by Hellenic Aerospace Industry, in coordination with U.S.-based Lockheed Martin.

Another four F-16s will be upgraded by the end of 2022.

The specific modernization program in conjunction with the upcoming agreement to modernize the F-16 Block 50 aircraft and the future acquisition of the ultra-modern fifth-generation F-35 aircraft also reflects our strong will to equip our Armed Forces with the most state-of-the-art weapon systems that shield our Homeland, but also strengthen even more the strategic defense relationship between Greece and the United States,” Minister of National Defense Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said. “This strong relationship is sealed by our continued cooperation in many areas of defense and security, as well as the conclusion of important bilateral agreements such as the first and second Mutual Defense Cooperation Amendment (MDCA) Protocols signed in 2019 and 2020.”

First 2 Upgraded F-16Vs Reach Greece Even as U.S. Dithers on Turkish Jets' Modernization
Turkish F-16 is decades behind the latest F-16V in technology

Athens’ relations with its neighbor Turkey has hit a new low in recent weeks. The latter accuses Greece of illegally militarizing demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea and questions its sovereignty over them. The two are at odds over a number of issues, including competing claims over jurisdiction in the Eastern Mediterranean, overlapping claims over their continental shelves, maritime boundaries, air space, energy, the ethnically split island of Cyprus, the status of the islands in the Aegean Sea and migrants.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of attempting to hinder the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Turkey. Ankara was also denied F-35 jets for buying S-400 missile systems from Russia.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a legislation last month to block the sale. Put forward by New Jersey lawmaker Frank Pallone, the amendment passed 244-179 with strong Democratic support and 60 votes of approval coming from Republicans. The law prohibits the sale or transfer of F-16s and modernization kits to Turkey unless American President Joe Biden certifies the transfer is in American national interests and guarantees to Congress that in the 120 days prior to the transfer, the Turkish government has not "violated the sovereignty of Greece, including through territorial overflights."

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