The first two of a total of eighty-three upgraded F-16 jets arrived at the Tanagra Airbase in Greece on Monday.
The first two F-16 Viper jets will serve as pilot training aircraft. Greece hopes to receive at least six more jets by the end of 2022.
The F-16 upgrade includes 1.5 billion dollars across eight years, but it is only a part of the ten billion dollars F-16 program spanning thirty-five years of procurement and sustainment successes, US Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis said.
“Greece’s F-16 Vipers will immediately enhance NATO’s interoperability with 4th and 5th-generation fighter aircraft, ensuring our alliance can defend our security interests,” Tsunis noted.
“I eagerly await the modernization of the remaining F-16V aircraft and their return to the skies as the most advanced F-16 fleet in Europe,” he added.
I’m honored to celebrate w/@npanagioto and @ChiefHNDGS the F-16 Viper upgrade, which strengthens NATO, secures the region and boosts both of our economies. The US-Greece defence relationship is at an all-time high, strengthened by our updated Mutual Defence Cooperation Agreement. pic.twitter.com/LG9w3nkfp0
— George J. Tsunis (@USAmbassadorGR) September 12, 2022
Greece boosting air force with upgraded F-16s
Of the technical elements of the F-16 Viper upgrade, the most important of concerns is the installation of AESA-type radars, which will transform eighty-three aircraft to fully interoperable with the F-35.
The upgraded F-16 Viper also features a more powerful processor and larger display panels which allow the operator to have clarity and range of perception of occurrences in the field.
They have guided laser bombs and a new cockpit that simplifies handling.
Greece is also boosting its air force arsenal with Rafale fighter jets made by France’s Dassault. On July 21st, the company delivered the first of eighteen jets—twelve used, six new—that Greece is slated to receive under a three billion dollar deal signed in January 2021.
“The Rafale will provide the HAF with a latest-generation multirole fighter, enabling the Hellenic Republic to ensure its geostrategic stance in full sovereignty,” manufacturer Dassault wrote in a statement at the time.
The Greek defense investments come amid worsening ties with neighboring Turkey.
F-16 was designed as an air superiority day fighter
The General Dynamics F-16 Viper is a single-engine, multi-role fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force (USAF).
Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful, all-weather, multirole aircraft. Over 4,600 aircraft have been built since production was approved in 1976.
Although no longer purchased by the U.S. Air Force, improved versions are being built for export customers.
In 1993, General Dynamics sold its aircraft manufacturing business to the Lockheed Corporation, which, in turn, became part of Lockheed Martin after a 1995 merger with Martin Marietta.