The Letter of Request mentions the need for the fifth generation aircraft to be delivered in 2021.
The Greek government officially requested an urgent purchase of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fifth generation aircraft for the Hellenic Air Force.
According to the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, the Director General of Armaments and Investments for the Ministry of National Defense, Theodoros Lagios, sent a formal Letter of Request (LOR) to the U.S. Department of Defense on November 6, 2020.
Here is an extract published by the newspaper:
“The decision to enter (Greece) in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will be based on a variety of factors such as the fighter delivery program, the repayment plan, the configuration of the aircraft and a possible combination to obtain a total of 18- 24 jets (new or used by the US Air Force, if available).
Your immediate response will be appreciated. […]
Due to internal fiscal arrangements and other applicable rules within the EU budget and deficit framework, it is crucial that the first F-35s be delivered in 2021. For our part, we will do everything possible to implement this ambitious program. […]
We would like you to address this request with the highest possible sense of urgency, because we have a window of opportunity for the possible supply of F-35s in the very near future”.
According to the newspaper, the Greek government has already received info about the availability and prices for the jets from the US. This comes less than a month after the claims by Greek medias that the Hellenic Air Force would receive in 2022 six F-35s originally built for Turkey as part of a larger order of 20 aircraft.
While in the beginning these reports seemed unlikely, the fact that those six jets (Lots 10 and 11, Block 3F configuration) are being held “in long-term storage in the United States pending final decision on their disposition” may explain how the reports about their delivery to Greece originated, since the government required an immediate delivery next year, instead of 2024 as reported earlier.
As for the second-hand aircraft, it is not yet clear where the U.S. Air Force would source them. It is highly unlikely that the service is willing to sell some of its newer operational aircraft, while the older ones, which may seem a better candidate, are scheduled to become Aggressors. However, we can’t rule out that some of these older jets, like the ones based at Luke Air Force Base, may be sold to be used for training purposes, leaving the newer ones only for operational missions.
Meanwhile, some artworks showing the F-35 in Greek colors have already started circulating online.
The possible purchase of the F-35 is just one of the many acquisition programs of the Greek defense this year, initiated in order to modernize the armed forces after tensions with Turkey rose up again. Talking about the aviation-related programs we can mention the Rafale, and MH-60R acquisition and the F-16 and AH-64 upgrade.
We already wrote in detail about the Rafale purchase back in September here at The Aviationist when it was first announced by the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. The HAF is set to receive 18 Rafale, six of which will be newly built Rafale F3-R while the remaining twelve are second-hand Rafale F3-O4T which are reportedly being upgraded to the F3-R standard too. The Rafale will reportedly replace the non-upgraded Mirage 2000EG/BG, serving alongside the newer Mirage 2000-5 Mk II. The Greek government asked for deliveries to start in 2021, like the F-35s. The French Air Force, which has been recently redesignated as French Air and Space Force, will replace the aircraft sold to Greece with the same number of new ones.
The HAF is also upgrading 82 of its 153 F-16C/Ds Block 52 to the F-16V Block 70 configuration. The upgrade program will last until 2027, with the works on the first jets already in progress at the Hellenic Aerospace Industry facilities. According to a Lockheed Martin brochure detailing the proposed upgrade for the HAF, the equipment removed from the Block 52 aircraft (before subsequently being replaced by the new components) could be used to upgrade Block 30 and 50 aircraft to the M6 avionic configuration, but this has not been confirmed by the Greeks.
Back in July, the Greek government has signed a Letter Of Acceptance (LOA) to purchase four MH-60R Seahawk helicopters and modernize the 11 S-70B6 Aegean Hawk helicopters already in service in the Greek Navy. The contract for this Foreign Military Sale (FMS) was awarded to Lockheed Martin later in October. The MH-60 will reportedly replace (partially or completely) the 7 AB-212ASW in service.
In the same month, an upgrade program for 19 AH-64 Apache helicopters has been reported, with Elbit Systems providing a new Modernized Target Acquisition Designation Sight/Pilot Night Vision Sensor System (M-TADS/PNVS) and Integrated Helmet and Display Sighting System (IHADSS). The Apache will get the Rafael Spike NLOS fire-and-forget anti-tank guided missile to integrate or replace the AGM-114 Hellfire. The Aegean Hawk will also reportedly receive the new weapon.