It has long been clear to careful observers that the sale of US F-35 fighter jets to Greece is linked to the purchase of new (and upgraded) F-16s from Turkey, but the stormy developments of the past seven days have They have come to confirm this..
After the Turkish National Assembly approved Sweden's NATO membership and Tayyip Erdogan accepted the decision with his signature, US President Joe Biden It asked the US Congress for the green light to go ahead with a massive $23 billion plan to sell 40 new F-16 Vipers. A batch of 79 more Turkish F-16 fighter jets in the same configuration with modernization.
Three days ago, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken announced in a letter to Kyriakos Mitsotakis that Washington had decided to sell 40 F-35 fighter jets from the surplus, along with other weapons systems. US Army to Greek Armed Forces. The package of 40 F-35s sold alone will reach $8.6 billion, including 42 engines and new fighter jets, navigation systems and other parts and weapons for pilot and engineer training.
News from Washington
The way the deal went was no accident: Washington has sent the message that it rewards NATO members who follow its lead and remain loyal allies. The F-16 program opened up for Turkey when Tayyip Erdogan dropped his reservations and Sweden agreed to join NATO. It was only when the much-coveted F-16s were released to Ankara that Washington formally gave Athens the go-ahead to begin the F-35 sales process.
Simply put, the delay in starting formal negotiations to sell F-35s to Greece, which the Air Force has been asking for for years, is largely due to Turkey. At the end of “Alizverici” the US government appears to have said that its aviation rival will not acquire the F-35s until negotiations on the acquisition of the F-16s by Tayyip Erdoğan are completed.
With the parallel initiation of procedures for the purchase of US fighter jets from Athens and Ankara, The US decision to have Greece as a technological leader is reflected in practice. Today Greece has 14 (out of 83 to be upgraded) modernized F-16 Vipers, while Turkey's best US fighter jets are the F-16 Block50, the F-16's immediate predecessor. Turkey will receive the F-16 Viper in the coming years and Greece will be reinforced with the F-35, an advanced fighter, 5.her Generation, Americans are the most loyal of their allies and are second only to Israelis and Italians in our geographic area.
For its part, Ankara has signaled Turkey's internal public opinion that Erdogan's “yes” to NATO expansion comes with specific trade-offs for strengthening its war machine. KAfter years of protests and searches, the Turkish side managed to close the deal to modernize its F-16s. The US has been holding off on buying new Vipers and stockpiling spare parts for its fighter jets, mainly after the crisis over its purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft systems. As per available information, systems are lying idle in warehouses. In the deal to sell F-16 Vipers to Turkey, Congress is expected to include a provision that US fighter jets will not be used to create problems in NATO's southeast region. It remains to be seen how the Americans' strong recommendation not to use the new F-16s for atrocities against the Aegean and… Greece will be reflected in the Viper sale deal.
Greece has every reason to be satisfied with developments. The Air Force will be strengthened with the most modern fighter jets and will enter the closed club of the most advanced air forces on the planet. 7 to 10 in the 80s and 90s, with the new American doctrine in the Aegean, Washington's decision to keep Greece technologically one step ahead of Turkey has been proven. Along with 18 (today, six more fighters are expected to be delivered by the end of the year) French Rafales, Greece has all 83 upgraded F-16 Vipers and is clearly on course to begin receiving F-35s. Air predominates in the Aegean.
While the fact that Turkey will be reinforced with 119 F-16 Vipers is seen as a problem in some circles in Athens, reinforcing Ankara with American fighters is preferable to choosing another solution – for example the Russian Sukhoi. Make the neighboring country unruly. The US establishment's decision to keep Turkey “tied” to the West is obvious.
Of course, one big irony is that while the violation of Greek airspace by Turkish fighters in the Aegean has been practically zero for almost a year, ating that Greece has restored their relations and is actually discussing even the most difficult issues. On issues like continental shelf and exclusive economic zone delimitation, the two countries will spend nearly $31.6 billion to buy new fighter jets from the US.
Timetable for purchase of F-35 aircraft from Greece
The astronomical sum of $8.6 billion for Greece to buy 40 F-35 fighter jets is the ceiling of the program and not the exact amount of the purchase. Depends on the number of fighter jets Athens orders. It is not clear whether the Greek Air Force will buy first, with an option to purchase 20 F-35s in the future, or 30 aircraft with an option for 10 more in the future, as was the initial request to Washington. . Parallel to Anthony Blinken's letter to Kyriakos Mitsotakis, procurement approval procedures are underway by the US Pentagon's Defense Cooperation and Security Assistance Committee, while formal congressional approvals are provided through an indirect adoption process.
Domestic proceedings in the US are expected to take approximately three months. After that, Greek-American discussions will begin to draw up agreements, which will last several months. Most likely by the end of 2024, the contract for the purchase of F-35 aircraft from Greece will be finalized and signed. It usually takes 36 months for manufacturer Lockheed Martin to start delivering new fighter jets. Based on these data, the first two American F-35 fighter jets in the colors of the Greek Air Force are expected to land on Greek soil (probably at the Andhravida base) in 2028. F-35 delivery program to US allies begins regularly. First with a pair of fighter jets to begin aerial training of selected pilots. After the agreement is signed, the training of Greek pilots and engineers will begin. But building and developing the ultra-modern infrastructure needed to accommodate the F-35 could be a much more difficult project. This part of the market is very expensive and requires a large and intensive effort.
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