The US Department of Defense has reportedly lifted its blockade on the sale of non-American made electronic warfare equipment, provided by an Israeli company, to the Greek Air Force for its new F-16C/D Block 52+ multi-role fighters, a defense magazine reported yesterday from Tel Aviv. According to Jane’s Defense Weekly (JDW), Israeli defense and industry sources have indicated that this is the first time Washington has allowed a non-American contractor to install its equipment on F-16s in production for a NATO ally. Washington had blocked the sale for over two years. In early spring of 1999, Greece selected for purchase the F-16 Block 50+ and subsequently ordered 50 aircraft on March 10, 2000. Including equipment and logistics, the total contract value is $2.1 billion, and the first delivery is scheduled for this year. After signing the multimillion-dollar contract with US-based Lockheed Martin, Greece approached Israel in a drive to warm up bilateral military ties. A team of Greek officials made a visit to Israel in March 2000 and met with Israeli defense industry officials; talks focused on the purchase of self-protection and surveillance systems. Elisra Electronics Systems, an Israeli electronic warfare (EW) systems company, is said to have proposed its top-of-the-line system to the Greek delegation for its new F-16 fighter jets. The deal, which is said to be worth between $160-$180 million, was blocked – until now – by the USA, which for years asserted that non-US EW equipment would not be compatible and could impair the operability of F-16s if used in combination. Israel had raised its own concerns over the contract, as, in its view, such a sale could have an negative impact on Israeli-Turkish relations. The deal involved Elisra’s Advanced Self Protection Suite, which incorporates four radar-warning receivers, four missile-warning sensors, jamming equipment, and two electronic countermeasures dispensers to protect the host aircraft from missile threats. An Israeli defense official told JDW that negotiations with the US Department of Defense to allow the Elisra deal had been a priority at the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and led to meetings between Israeli Defense Director General Amos Yaron, his deputy, Yekutiel Mor, and US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Elisra President Anver Raz described the US Department of Defense approval as «unprecedented.» The robberies were the first in the 12-nation eurozone since Europe’s new money went into circulation Tuesday, but caused little concern among European banking officials.