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GreekReporter.comGreek NewsGreece Plans Major Overhaul of Air Force and Sale of Older Jets

Greece Plans Major Overhaul of Air Force and Sale of Older Jets

Greece Air Force
Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000 taking off. Public Domain

Greece has announced a major overhaul of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) which essentially involves the decommissioning and sale of F-16 and Mirage 2000 fighter jets.

Greek Defense Minister Nikos Dendias highlighted the need for the Air Force to be streamlined, pointing out that the variety of aircraft types in the current fleet was a burden. The fundamental driver behind the decision to downsize the fighter jet fleet was the exorbitant expense of maintenance.

“We need to make some very radical changes in the weapons systems [operated by the HAF], … everything needs to change,” Dendias said in an interview with Antenna TV recently.

“We have a cartload of different types of aircraft. We have F-4s, Mirage 2000-5s, Block 30 F-16s, Block 50 F-16s, Block 52 F-16s, Viper F-16s and Rafales. We cannot carry on this way,” he said.

Greece’s Air Force streamlined

“The F-4s need to be retired and, if possible, sold. The Mirage 2000-5 is an exceptionally capable plane and can be sold. The Block 30 F-16s need to be sold. And I think we will be able to sell the [Mirage 2000-5 and Block 30 F-16s],” he added, pointing to the enormous cost of maintaining many different types of aircraft as opposed to having compatible fleets.

With the HAF now receiving into service upgraded Lockheed Martin F-16V Fighting Falcon jets and new Dassault Rafales, as well as the Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) it is expected to shortly sign for, the service will have to sell off several older types.

Dendias acknowledged that the initiative to upgrade Greece’s F-16s to Viper level had been delayed, but he insisted that the nation will have an adequate fleet of planes by 2027 at the latest.

Earlier this year, the US State Department authorized a prospective US$8.6 billion sale of F-35 fighter jets and associated equipment to Greece.

According to the Pentagon’s Security Cooperation Agency, this deal could involve the procurement of up to 40 fighters, 42 engines, guidance systems, spare parts, and other ancillary equipment, with assurances that such transactions would not undermine US military readiness or disrupt the regional military balance.

Greece’s jets to Ukraine?

It has been reported that Ukraine would be interested in buying some of the fighter jets Greece will put up for sale. Kyiv has been pleading with NATO countries to arm it with fighter jets like the F-16 and the Mirage-2000s.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has asked Greece to send excess weapons to Ukraine following the deal to sell Athens the fifth-generation F-35 jets.

In a letter addressed to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Blinken expressed interest in Greece’s defense capabilities that could be useful to Ukraine, contingent upon Ukraine’s interest and a subsequent assessment of the condition and approximate cost of the proposed assets.

However, despite announcing last year that Greece will train Ukrainian fighter pilots to fly the F-16, the country has remained tight-lipped about transferring fighter jets to Kyiv, unlike its other allies in NATO, like Denmark and the Netherlands, which are poised to deliver their respective F-16s to Ukraine later this year.

Countries like Norway and Belgium could also deliver their jets to Ukraine.

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