Greece to buy 170 new German tanks

After nearly two years of abstinence from major military shopping, Greece decided yesterday to spend an estimated 2 billion euros on new tanks, transport aircraft and jet fighter electronic systems. Speaking to journalists after yesterday’s session of the Government Council on Foreign Policy and Defense (KYSEA), Defense Minister Yiannos Papantoniou said the new procurements were in full harmony with last year’s decision to trim 1 trillion drachmas off military spending from 2002-2006. «We are not a rich country,» he said. KYSEA selected the German Leopard 2A5 battle tank, made by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, rejecting bids from British, US, French, Russian and Ukrainian arms industries. Stepping down from the initial intention of buying 246 new tanks, KYSEA decided to order 170. This could cost an estimated 1.5 billion euros. Greece already uses an older version of the Leopard tank. KYSEA also opted to buy 12 C-27J military transport aircraft, which are made by Finmeccanica of Italy and Lockheed Martin of the USA. The price tag is expected to be around 360 million euros. And the council selected the Aspis electronic countermeasures system for the defense of the air force’s new F-16 fighters. The systems are made by America’s Raytheon and Northrop Grumman and Britain’s BAE Systems, and are expected to cost up to 150 million euros. «The delivery date was a particularly weighty criterion regarding the countermeasures systems, which will start to be delivered in 2003 with the 60 new F-16,» Papantoniou said. «Time is important, for military aircraft without electronic countermeasures are effectively useless in wartime.»

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