June 22, 2021

What a modernized Hellenic Air Force with F-35s could mean for Turkey

Greece has announced plans to upgrade its existing fleet of fighter jets as well as acquire new U.S.-built fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II aircraft in a move that might give its military a technological edge over neighbouring Turkey.

Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said this month that Greece plans to buy a squadron of 24 F-35s.

Athens presently possesses 154 fourth-generation F-16 Fighting Falcons.

In December, Panagiotopoulos announced that 84 of them would be upgraded to the advanced Viper class by Lockheed Martin by 2027, at a total cost of approximately $1.5 billion for Athens.

Additionally, Greece plans to upgrade its smaller fleet of French-made Mirage 2000 multirole fighters, also over the next seven years.

According to the 2019 Military Strength Ranking, which utilizes more than 55 individual factors to determine the strength of a nation, Greece has the 28th most powerful military in the world while Turkey has the ninth.

Analysts consulted by Ahval News outlined the likely significance of Greece fielding F-35s.

Levent Özgül, a Turkish defence analyst for Blue Melange Consultancy, said a purchase of F-35s “will be the most important milestone and capability jump for Greece and the Hellenic Air Force (HAF).”

This is because of the F-35’s advanced capabilities, such as its long-range, networking and stealth features.