Defense minister says Greece plans to boost Air Force with upgraded F-16s, F-35s


Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said on Thursday Greece is interested in acquiring a squadron of US-made F-35 fighter jets in the coming years as part of its plan to reclaim its superiority over Turkey in air defence.

Speaking on Skai TV, the minister said the upgrade of the Hellenic Air Force’s F-16 to the Viper version will be starting in the coming days, adding that the process will take about seven to eight years.

Panagiotopoulos also said that Greece will respond “dynamically” to any challenge to its sovereignty and confirmed Kathimerini’s report that the United States plan to take initiatives to defuse tensions with Ankara following Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ meetings with the US leadership, senators and lawmakers in Washington in the past few days.

Asked on the initiatives, the minister said they do not necessarily include President Donald Trump calling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but may involve other channels of communication.