New ad­di­tions and up­grade for air force fleet

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece is tak­ing the first steps to­ward up­grad­ing its ex­ist­ing F-16 fighter jets and pur­chas­ing, in due time, fifth-gen­er­a­tion F-35 fight­ers.

The De­fense Min­istry re­vealed the news yes­ter­day. Aides of De­fense Min­is­ter Panos Kam­menos said that the de­ci­sion was taken in line with rec­om­men­da­tions made by mil­i­tary chiefs.

The next steps that will be taken are, firstly, to make the im­prove­ments to the F-16s Greece al­ready owns; then, to in­form the US gov­ern­ment of the Greek in­ter­est in buy­ing F-35s; and, fi­nally, to agree on the main­te­nance of the mil­i­tary’s S300 long-range sur­face-to-air mis­sile sys­tems.

The de­ci­sion taken by Kam­menos came af­ter pres­sure from the chiefs of the Hel­lenic Air Force for the mod­ern­iza­tion of the most im­por­tant part of its fleet.

If the F-16s are up­graded to F-16 Viper vari­ant, they will be com­pat­i­ble with the F-35s, should Greece pro­ceed with their pur­chase. The de­fense min­is­ter signed yes­ter­day a letter of re­quest for this work to go ahead. The im­prove­ment would also sig­nif­i­cantly pro­long the life of the F-16s. The cost of up­grad­ing the en­tire fleet of F16s Greece has will cost be­tween 1.7 and 2 bil­lion dol­lars. The pay­ment of this fee will be spread over a pe­riod of time rather than be­ing paid in one go.

Each F-35 costs be­tween 80 and 100 mil­lion dol­lars. Greece will have to send an­other letter of re­quest con­firm­ing how many of the Lock­heed Mar­tin air­craft Athens wants to buy.

The deal for the main­te­nance of the S300 mis­sile sys­tems is not yet clear. Over the last few months, there has been much dis­cus­sion about im­prov­ing the S300’s radar sys­tem, which would give the mis­siles greater ac­cu­racy, sim­i­lar to that achieved by the lat­est ver­sion of the Rus­sian-made sys­tem, the S400.

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