The first upgraded F-16 Viper of the Hellenic Air Force will land on Wednesday at the aerospace facility in Fort Worth, Texas, currently owned by the US Air Force and operated by Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, where, for a few months, it will undergo final tests.
Its long journey, of some 10,000 kilometers, started on Thursday afternoon from the 114th Battle Wing at the Tanagra Air Base in northern Attica.
American insignia were affixed to the aircraft, which was also legally registered with the United States Air Force (USAF) in order to avoid problems flying into the country’s airspace.
This means that until it returns to Greece, for legal reasons, the plane has been registered as part of the USAF fleet.
The jet has made a stop at a US Air Force base in Belgium where it will remain until Wednesday morning, when it will depart with three other F-16s from other countries for its final destination in Texas.
The final leg of the trip over the Atlantic from Belgium to Fort Worth will take about 10 hours.
It will be refueled in the air about eight to 10 times. Sources familiar with such flights say that the frequency of refueling is linked to flight safety. An F-16 Viper can fly from Belgium to Texas with much less refueling. However, the fuel tanks of the fighter must be almost constantly full, so that in case of an accident or damage, it has enough time to land on the nearest land.
The arrival of the fighter jet in the US for final tests, as well as the introduction to the facilities of the Hellenic Aerospace Industry of a second F-16 that will be upgraded to a Viper configuration, are testimony that the upgrading of the country’s jets is on track.
By 2027, another 83 jets must be upgraded, which means that HAI should deliver up to 12 aircraft a year.