ATHENS ($1=0.98 Euros) — Greece took an expected step amid recent attitudes from the Balkan state. Athens has officially sent a Letter of Request [LoR] to Washington for the acquisition of 20 units of the F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter. At the request of Greek politicians, an option was added to purchase a second squadron in the future.
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BulgarianMilitary.com was one of the first media outlets to suggest that Athens would want the American flagship in the air, citing Greek sources in Athens government circles. The same sources claim that the LoR sent to Washington lists the number 20 as a possible number of fighters and for possible second delivery in the future. I.e. if the US allows in this and the next decade, Greece will have at least 40 F-35 fighters.
Earlier in the week, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis hinted that Athens was preparing to take that step. “Our intention is to acquire an F-35 squadron with a possible option for a second,” he told reporters, adding that it would be a very long process.
Modernization of the Greek Air Force
Greece’s desire and the LoR sent to Washington to acquire 20 F-35s is not a hasty decision. Greece has a program to modernize its air fleet. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that just a few months ago Greece started receiving Rafale fighter jets from France. The order is for 18 Rafale fighter jets, but Athens increased the number to 24 last September.
Athens has a large fleet of F-16 fighters – 160 in total. A part of them is from the 80s and 90s of the last century (Block 30 and Block 50). These modifications are about 70 units in the Greek air fleet, and it is these that Athens will try to replace with the desire to acquire 20 now, and possibly another 20 F-35s in the future. About 80 F-16 units of the Hellenic Air Force are included in a program to upgrade and modernize to F-16 Block70/72 level.
Spain and Romania next in line
Currently, 10 countries in Europe [UK, Italy, Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Greece, Finland, Switzerland, and Germany] have received or expect to receive their F-35 fighters. With Greece’s LoR, that number becomes 11, but it most likely won’t end there.
In the future, Spain may join this group of countries on the old continent that are buyers of the F-35, if the contracting authorities agree to the demands of the Navy, which wants the version of the F-35B capable of operating from aircraft carriers to replace the current AV -8B Harrier II Plus.
A 2019 Pentagon report listed Spain among the five countries as potential customers for this fighter jet at the time, along with Singapore, Greece, Romania, and Poland. Of all of them, Greece and Poland have already taken the procedures to purchase the devices, and Singapore has also taken some action. Only Spain and Romania have yet to begin a purchase process, according to reports.
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