HomeNewsGreeceFirst two upgraded F-16 Viper fighter jets arrive in Greece

First two upgraded F-16 Viper fighter jets arrive in Greece

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Greece’s air force received the first two upgraded F-16 Viper fighter jets at the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAV) grounds in Tanagra, northwest of Athens on Monday.

The Hellenic Air Force has ordered a total of 83 F-16s under a $1.5 billion program to modernise its existing fighter fleet amid increasing tensions with neighbouring Turkey.

According to AP News, the first two Vipers are the first of 83 to be refitted with advanced electronics, radar and weapons capabilities by late 2027 by the EAV, in coordination with US manufacturer Lockheed Martin.

Two Greek Fighter Jets F-16 Viper prepare for take-off at Tanagra air force base about 74 kilometres north of Athens, Greece. Photo: AP Photo / Thanassis Stavrakis.

They will be used as training vehicles for the pilots of the Hellenic Air Force, while the EAV is ramping up production to deliver at least six more aircraft by the end of the year.

Speaking at an unveiling ceremony on Monday, the head of Greece’s joint chiefs of staff, General Constantinos Floros, said the program’s successful and timely completion “is an issue of the highest national importance.”

“Any potential aggressor will have to think twice or thrice before trying their luck,” once the upgrade is completed, General Floros said.

Greek Defence Minister, Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, was also at the ceremony along with Greece’s Finance Minister Christos Staikouras, Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis, the United States Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, and representatives from EAV.

The delivery of these fighter jets come as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has recently ramped up his provocative statements against Greece.

Erdogan warned Greece last week that it would pay a “heavy price” if it continues to harass Turkish fighter jets over the Aegean and hinted at military action.

Despite this, Greece’s Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said on Monday that he is still open to a meeting with Erdogan and he can’t imagine tensions with Turkey could ever escalate into armed conflict.

This hasn’t stopped Greece though from embarking on a multi-billion dollar spending spree to boost its armed forces and counter the threat from Turkey.

Greece has also bought or ordered French Rafale fighter jets. Photo: Dassault / Twitter.

It has bought or ordered French Rafale fighter jets and FDI frigates, and is planning to purchase F-35 fighters from the US.

The F-16s, developed in the 1970s, are the workhorse of Greece’s air force. It acquired a first batch of 40 in 1989, and another 130 over the years. The latest upgrade will bring the 83 planes to the Block 72 variant, which is the most advanced version of the model in service in Europe.

Source: AP News.

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