In a bid to outdo the Turkish threat faced by Greece in the Aegean sea, Athens has formally sent a request to acquire the Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighters from the Unites States.
According to a greek newspaper, Proto Thema, an official Letter of Request (LOR) was sent by the Ministry of National Defense, signed by the Director-General of Armaments and Investments, Theodoros Lagios addressing the US government.
“The decision to enter the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will be based on a variety of factors such as the delivery schedule of the fighters, the repayment plan, the configuration of the aircraft and a possible combination to obtain a total of 18 to 24 jets (new or used by the U.S. Air Force, if available),” the LOR said, according to Proto Thema.
“Due to internal fiscal arrangements and other applicable rules within the EU [European Union] budget and deficit framework, it is crucial that the first F-35s be delivered in 2021. For our part, we will do everything possible to implement this ambitious program.”
The letter adds that the request made by Athens should be addressed with the “highest possible sense of urgency” because there is a “window of opportunity for the possible supply of F-35s in the very near future” for Greece.
As reported earlier by EurAsian Times, amid escalating tensions between Greece and Turkey, France has lent its support to Athens by equipping the Hellenic Air Force with 18 Dassault Rafale fighter jets to fight its Mediterranean neighbors.
The greek newspaper suggests that the Russian S-400 missile system acquired by Turkey “can create problems in the daily activity of the [Hellenic] Air Force” and to counter the threat, Athens is moving fast to acquire the F-35 fighters.
The Hellenic Air Force already possesses a fleet of F-16 viper fighters which are undergoing an up-gradation process to the latest Viper standard by the year 2027 as part of a $1.5 billion deal with Lockheed Martin.
The deal, according to Lockheed Martin, will mean that the “F-16Vs will be the most advanced F-16s in Europe”, making Greece’s air fleet to have an unassailable lead over Turkey, who are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain its large fleet of fourth-generation fighters.
The F-35 fighters with the use of their advanced stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations, and advanced sustainment, will provide Greece with an aerial superiority they would have never experienced before.
With the Hellenic and Turkish Air Forces regularly sparring over the Aegean Sea, Greece can have the power of deploying the team of F-35s and Rafales to carry out ground as well as sea attacks along with reconnaissance and high accuracy attacks on Turkish bases.
It would be nothing short of an ironic twist if Athens manages to clinch this deal to acquire the F-35 fighters. Earlier, Turkey was ousted from the F-35 Joint Strike Program as Ankara was bent on acquiring the Russian S-400 missile systems that the US disapproved of.
The US said that it is expelling Turkey from its F-35 fighter jets programme after Ankara received the first parts of a Russian air defense system. The US argued the “F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities”.
With tensions again soaring in the East Mediterranean after Turkey redeployed the energy exploration vessel in the disputed sea which was withdrawn in September. According to Turkish media reports, two navy ships are guarding the vessel in the sea.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Greece and Cyprus of failing to fulfill “promises” made during negotiations within the European Union and NATO and said his country would continue to give them “the response they deserve”, reported Aljazeera.