While some recent reports indicated that with the arrival of F-35s, UAE cold shed some of its F-16s and sell them to Greece, an article published in Pentapostagma, a Greek news website, states that Athens aims for much more i.e to acquire stealth F-35 jets.
The brawls with Turkey has prompted Greece to initiate a modernization plan for its armed forces, which many experts suggest is severely lacking behind its rival in the East Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has urged Turkey to find a diplomatic solution to ease tension in the eastern Mediterranean. Mitsotakis also accused Turkey of “aggression” with its recent search for energy resources in contested waters but added: “I remain an optimist.”
“Let’s meet, let’s talk and let’s seek a mutually acceptable solution. Let’s give diplomacy a chance,” Mitsotakis said to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “If after all we still cannot agree, then we should trust the wisdom of the International Court at The Hague.”
In a recorded message, Mitsotakis pointed to the UAE’ recognition of Israel as a sign that Greece and Turkey can overcome historic animosity.
Earlier, since the Turkish oil exploration mission and resultant clashes, Greece has made plans clear for its forces- acquisition of 18 Rafale jets from France, 4 frigates, and 4 new naval utility helicopters, along with an expansion program of increasing its troop numbers by 15,000 in next 5 years.
Will Athens be satisfied only with 18 Rafales for the Hellenic Air Force? Currently, it operates around 150 F-16s and around 20 Mirage-2000s, along with roughly 30 F-4 Phantom IIs in its attack fixed-wing fleet.
Compared to Greece, the Turkish Air Force boasts an impressive figure of 245 F-16s, and about 50 F-4 Phantom-II, along with a huge arsenal of armed and unarmed UAVs.
While the presence of Mirage-2000s gives some hope to the Greeks, but the status of its modernization and upgrades is not known. In 1996, a Greek Mirage-2000 shot down a Turkish F-16 over the Aegean sea.
Turkey is also set to acquire the S-400 Triumf air defence systems from Russia, which is considered to be the greatest threat to the Hellenic Air Force.
However, the recent adventurism of Turkish premier Erdogan has created a rift between Greece and Turkey. Although being a part of NATO, most members are unhappy with Tayyip Erdogan’s rule and the path he is leading Turkey to.
With this, Greece has got itself in a better geopolitical situation – getting support from regional powers like France, Italy, Israel and the UAE.
Due to deteriorating ties between Jerusalem and Ankara, Athens has proved to become a faithful friend for the Israelis. Earlier this year, the two countries signed the EastMed gas pipeline deal, ensuring the security and supply of petroleum products.
Turkey, even being part of the NATO, has taken unilateral decisions in the battlefields of Syria and most importantly in Libya. In the latter’s conflict (Libya), Gen. Haftar’s forces supported by Israel, France, Egypt, Russia among others, has been fighting directly with the overtly Turkish supported GNA troops.
Turkey has had a long list of a deteriorating relationship under Erdogan with many many countries including Greece, France, Israel, India and the United States.
The EU has also repeatedly advised Turkey to end its exploration pursuits and threatened to slap sanctions if it declined to resolve the dispute through dialogue. France, especially, has supported Greece by sending warships and fighter jets to the region.