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Greece wants US F-35 fighter jets Turkey can’t buy | greece, politics

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While tensions are still high over rights to the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, Greece wants to buy 18-24 US-made F-35 fighter jets, which Turkey was not allowed to acquire afterwards. the purchase of Russian S-400 missile defenses.

Greek newspaper Proto Thema said Greece’s chief arms and investment manager Theodoros Lagios wrote to the Pentagon about obtaining the jets, which cost $ 77.9 million each.

That could bring a total price tag of around $ 1.869 billion at a time when the economy is seriously weakening after two lockdowns aimed at trying to prevent the spread of a second wave of COVID-19.

The official letter of request (LOR) was sent to the US Department of Defense by the Greek Ministry of Defense on November 6, the newspaper said, adding that it had obtained a copy of the document which requested “the immediate purchase New or old US Air Force F-35As, or maybe a mix of the two.

“The decision to participate in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program will be based on a variety of factors such as the fighter delivery schedule, the reimbursement plan, the aircraft configuration and a possible combination to obtain a total of 18 to 24 jets (new or used by the US Air Force, if available), ”the request would have indicated.

“Due to internal budgetary provisions and other applicable rules within the framework of the EU (European Union) budget and deficit, it is crucial that the first F-35s are delivered in 2021. For our part, we will do all we can to implement this ambitious program, ”the letter added.

There have been concerns about a conflict after Turkey sent an energy research vessel and warships off the Greek island of Kastellorizo, under the shadow of the Greek Navy, with the EU refusing to consider sanctions until the end of the year.

Lagios has reportedly called on US officials to travel to Greece “as soon as possible” to begin negotiations over a possible F-35 purchase, after Turkey said it had tested the S-400 system which could be used against Greece and compromise NATO, the defense alliance to which the two belong.

Using the F-35s would mean not having to wait for production and delivery of new F-35s to roll off the line at Lockheed Martin in Ft. Worth, Texas, and give Greece faster access as part of the reinforcement of its arsenal, as well as the purchase of French-made Rafale fighter jets and frigates, The War Zone also reported.

A Letter of Request (LOR) doesn’t necessarily mean Greece will get the jets to supplement its aging ranks of F-16 fighters that are being outclassed by the F-35s Turkey wanted to get.

The first Rafales are expected to start arriving in Greece in early 2021, at a rate of one per month, starting with the first six of a planned batch of 12 former French Air Force planes. The other six planes ordered by the Greeks are expected to be new build jets, The War Zone said.

Proto Thema noted that Turkey’s recently tested S-400 air defense system “could create problems in the daily activities of the (Greek) Air Force” and suggests that the fighter’s plans are an effort to counter that.

In October 2020, the Greek newspaper Estia reported that Greece could get the F-35s planned for Turkey, although the US Department of Defense said eight would go to the US Air Force, and at least 14 more designed. for Turkey were built.

The War Zone said that if Greece got hold of the F-35s, it could help reduce Turkey’s numerical advantage, although President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has purged much of his army as a result of an unsuccessful coup attempt against him in July 2016 and the Greek fighter pilots are ranked among the best in NATO and the world.

“The F-35s could act as effective force multipliers for other assets in the tactical inventory of the Hellenic Air Force, which is currently dominated by the F-16 Vipers, which are undergoing a major upgrade, ”the site said. .

“In this way, a relatively small fleet of joint attack fighters could be leveraged to achieve an effect beyond the capabilities of a larger force of less sophisticated jets,” he added.

In December 2019, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, before heading to the White House next month – before tensions with Turkey over maritime borders began to rise – said Greece wanted F-35s.

“We can still deepen our defense cooperation, for example in the drone sector,” Mitsotakis told the Greek newspaper To Vima at the time. “We will also begin a discussion on the possible acquisition of an F-35 aircraft, once the fiscal conditions allow it”, he said at the time.

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