The Hellenic Air Force might receive 20 F-35 aircraft to form a squadron, with a possible option for a second one.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced on June 30, 2022 that a Letter of Request has been sent to the United States to officially request the purchase of 20 F-35 Lightning II 5th gen aircraft. The announcement arrived after the NATO Summit in Madrid, Spain, and marks the beginning of the multi-stage process that will lead to the delivery of the first aircraft for the Hellenic Air Force in 2027-2028.
“Our intention is to acquire an F-35 squadron with a possible option for a second one. Sending a Letter of Request (LoR) which has happened in the past few days is part of this process,” Mitsotakis told reporters. “It is a long process and I am saying this because it means we have the fiscal space allowing us to make such a purchase.”
This Letter of Request follows another one that was reportedly sent in 2020 by the Ministry of National Defense to the U.S. Department of Defense, in which Greece requested 18-24 F-35 new or used by the U.S. Air Force to be delivered in 2021. Some reports even stated that Greece could have received six F-35s originally built for Turkey, if needed.
No other details have been released, other than saying that the Prime Minister discussed the acquisition of the F-35 during his recent trip to Washington last month. The Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and the chief of the National Defense General Staff, Konstantinos Floros, are expected to travel to the US this month too and it is safe to assume that the F-35 will be one of the subjects to be discussed.
The acquisition of F-35s would “strengthen Greece’s defense capabilities, deepen US-Greek NATO interoperability, securing regional stability,” US Ambassador to Greece George Tsunis, said in a tweet following a meeting last week between Minister Panagiotopoulos and officials from the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office.
The possible purchase of the F-35 is just one of the many acquisition programs of the Greek defense in the last few years, initiated in order to modernize the armed forces after tensions with Turkey rose up again. Greece and Turkey have been at odds for decades over a series of issues, but the current security situation which followed the Russian invasion in Ukraine further exacerbated the need to modernize the military across Europe.