The acquisition by Greece of US-made F-35 fighter jets will hinge on the country’s fiscal plans and Washington’s ability to offer a long-term payment framework, reliable sources said Friday.
The possibility of Greece acquiring the Lockheed Martin jets as part of its efforts to upgrade the Hellenic Air Force fleet, was raised Friday by Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, following remarks on Thursday by a US official about the possibility of selling the aircraft to more countries.
More specifically, Vice Admiral Mathias Winter, head of the Pentagon’s F-35 office, told Congress on Thursday that sales of the jets could be expanded to include five new countries – Singapore, Spain, Romania, Greece and Poland.
“Beyond the upgrade of the F-16 fighter jets, we are in the process of selecting a new plane for Greece, so we can gradually move to the new generation of aircraft,” Apostolakis told journalists during a visit to Andravida Air Base in the western Peloponnese.
“The statement by the US Congress helps in this perspective. We will examine it, all the elements, and see what will happen,” he added.
Sources said that given Greece’s fiscal constraints, the purchase of the fighter jets will depend on whether it can pay for them over a time period ranging from six to eight years.
For the time being, Greece has sent a letter of request for price and availability to Lockheed Martin for between 25 and 30 jets.
Greek interest comes at a time of growing tensions between the US and Turkey over Ankara’s acquisition of Russian missile defense systems, which Washington opposes.