Thursday, May 23 2024

Greece eyeing boost with F-35, Rafale aircraft

The Defense Ministry is moving ahead with the reinforcement of the Hellenic Air Force with French-made Rafale and US F-35 fighter jets as well as unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and drone response systems, possibly within 2021.

At the same time, the maintenance and upgrading of existing systems is progressing rapidly, which will ease the burden of maintaining balance in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean vis-à-vis Turkey. 

The ultimate aim is the creation of the conditions for the transformation of the HAF into a force that, in addition to the proven value of its human resources, will be able to support a significant range of operations throughout the Eastern Mediterranean.

If this planning goes ahead, then the balance between the HAF and the Turkish Air Force will shift in a relatively short time. 

On a practical level, the HAF will have access to equipment and technologies from three different countries, the United States, France and Israel.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos already has a proposal ready for the US for the acquisition of six fifth-generation F-35 fighters, with few flight hours, which could even be delivered to Greece within 2021. 

Athens will implement the plan to acquire 18 more new aircraft of this type in due course, so that the HAF will end up with a total of 24 F-35s. 

As for the supply of the French Rafale jets, the issue is expected to come to the Parliament in December. Meanwhile, the first six used aircraft are expected within the first half of 2021.

At the same time, the 114th Battle Wing in Tanagra, also known as the “nest” of the Mirage 2000, is constantly being upgraded with the number of French fighter jets growing rapidly.