Greece has sent an official request to the United States for the purchase of twenty Lockheed Martin-made F-35 fighter jets, the country’s prime minister said on Thursday.
Speaking to reporters in Madrid during a NATO summit, Kyriakos Mitsotakis said Greece intended to buy a squadron of the Lockheed Martin-made F-35s, with a possible option for a second squadron.
“Part of this procedure is the sending of the Letter of Request, which has occurred in recent days,” Mitsotakis said, stressing this was the start of a lengthy process. Athens estimated it would not receive delivery of the aircraft before 2027 or 2028.
Greek officials said one squadron would consist of twenty planes.
Mitsotakis expressed the desire for Greece to join the F-35 program during his meeting with President Biden at the White House in May.
F-35 is a stealth, fifth-generation, multirole combat aircraft
In January 2021, Greece publicly revealed for the first time that the country is eyeing the purchase of state-of-the-art F-35 fighter aircraft from the US.
Speaking after Greece and France signed the agreement to buy Rafale fighters, Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said that “sooner or later, a purchase of F-35s will be discussed.”
Greece has already ordered 24 French-made Rafale fighter jets—six new and eighteen previously in service with the French Air Force, as well as three French frigates.
The F-35 is a stealth, fifth-generation, multirole combat aircraft, designed for ground-attack and air-superiority missions.
It is built by Lockheed Martin and many subcontractors, including Northrup Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, and BAE Systems.
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.
Turkey is also attempting to buy new F-16 fighter jets from the US. “We should sell them the F-16 jets and modernize those jets as well,” US President Joe Biden said at the conclusion of a NATO summit in Madrid on Thursday. “It’s not in our interest not to do that.”
Biden met Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan who, on Wednesday, dropped his opposition to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO.