Kammenos: US Congress may approve free upgrade of some F-16 jets


National Defense Minister Panos Kammenos claimed on Friday that the US Congress may decide to upgrade part of the Hellenic Air Force fleet of F-16 fighter jets for free.

Speaking on ANT1 TV, the leader of minor coalition partner Independent Greeks said that the Congress is convening late on Friday (US time) and may approve the upgrading of a number of the Greek jets as “assistance” to Greece, implying that this could take place as a bonus for the deal to bring the Greek fleet up to standard.

He reiterated his ministry’s claim on Thursday that the cost of the upgrade will not exceed $1.1 billion, while the amount of $2.4 billion that US President Donald Trump referred to on Tuesday concerned a possible upgrade of the entire F-16 fleet.

“Were all aircraft to be upgraded, [the cost] would go up to $2.4 billion; we do not want all jets to be upgraded, but just a part of them, unless the Congress committee that is meeting tomorrow morning decides that this translates into a free assistance for Greece and they want to upgrade all 123 jets,” added Kammenos.

“We want part or all of that amount to form part of talks, because the US considers Greece to be a center of stability in the broader region and can decide whether that will be US assistance to our country,” he said.

New Democracy Vice President Costis Hatzidakis told Skai radio on Friday that “instead of the US investing in Greece, it is Greece investing in the US through the F-16 upgrading deal.”