Greece will be able to acquire the advanced F-35 aircraft starting in 2029, since outlays for other defense procurements leave no space in the country’s budget.
Spending on military systems acquisitions will reach 1.5 to 2 billion euros per year, with the exception of 2023, when it will be lower, according to Finance Ministry projections. This ceiling has already been reached with the deliveries of Rafale fighter aircraft, missile systems, corvettes and their accompanying electronics and weapons systems, which are quite expensive. Already scheduled deliveries for 2029 will cost about €1 billion, so there’s no leeway for deliveries of other weapons systems.
We should note that spending on defense systems and system deliveries are not one and the same. Spending, according to the rules agreed with Eurostat, the EU’s statistical office, regards payments that include downpayments and are not included in a country’s budget deficit, but are included in its debt. Deliveries, on the other hand, are included in the deficit. For 2022, defense procurement spending will reach €3.375 billion and deliveries €1.12 billion.
The ceiling on deliveries is included in the 2022-2025 Stabilization Program submitted to the European Commission at the end of April and is thus a commitment on Greece’s part.
Finance Minister Christos Staikouras recently announced that payments for defense systems acquisitions rose from €515 million in 2020 to nearly €2.5 billion in 2021 and will rise further to €3.4 billion in 2022. Actual deliveries for the years 2022-2028 will total €11.5 billion, or an average of over €1.6 billion annually, from about €500 million in recent years.
The upgrade of 83 F-16 fighters to the “Viper” configuration is expected to be completed by 2027, and all 24 Rafale fighters will be delivered by 2024. But delays could occur.