Greece has asked the United States to purchase up to two dozen fifth generation F-35 aircraft to boost its defense capabilities in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean, it emerged on Monday.
The official Letter of Request (LOR) from the Department of Defense was sent to the US Government on November 6, 2020.
“The decision to join the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will be based on a variety of factors such as the fighter delivery program, the repayment plan, the configuration of the aircraft and a possible combination to obtain a total of 18-24 jets (new or used by the US Air Force, if available)”, the Director General of Armaments and Investments, Theodoros Lagios wrote in the LOR.
“Due to internal fiscal arrangements and other applicable rules within the EU budget and deficit framework, it is crucial that the first F-35s are delivered in 2021. For our part, we will do everything possible to implement this ambitious program,” the letter continued.
“Your immediate response will be appreciated,” Lagios told the American defense authorities.
The decision to proceed with the purchase of Lockheed Martin’s F-35 follows Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ request to buy 18 twin-engine French Rafale fighter jets (six new and 12 slightly used).
The Greek government hopes that if the US authorities give the go-ahead, the acquisition of the entire squadron of F-35 fighters, along with the purchase of 18 French Rafale fighter jets, will change the balance of power with Turkey.
By procuring state-of-the-art jets, Greece hopes it will cancel out the threat posed by Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft system.