According to an announcement by the prime minister’s office, the approval was given after Defense Minister Panos Kammenos informed KYSEA that the US has accepted a revised Greek proposal that takes into consideration Greece’s fiscal commitments and constraints in the coming years.
Kammenos described the F-16 upgrade as a “great day for the air force.”
A very big day for our @HAFspokesman and @Hellenic_MOD allies as the Greece F-16 upgrade moves ahead - building on Prime Minister @tsipras_eu visit to the White House last October. Congratulations Minister @PanosKammenos and team. pic.twitter.com/zRCzeRnYv1— Geoffrey Pyatt (@USAmbGreece) April 28, 2018
In a tweet, US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt hailed the approval as a “very big day,” adding that the upgrade will move ahead “building on Prime Minister Tsipras' visit to the White House last October.”
New Democracy's shadow defense minister Vasilis Kikilias said the main opposition was always in favor of an F-16 upgrade and will wait for the details of the deal with the United States before commenting further.
The main obstacle to the deal was disagreements with US aerospace firm Lockheed Martin over the program’s launch date and the tight payment schedule.
Greece is eager to update its fleet so that it attains interoperability with F-35 jets, which Turkey is already starting to acquire. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the eKathimerini website.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: According to Greek media reports, the upgrade will concern 84 Block 52+ and Block 52+Adv aircraft, which will be upgraded to F-16V Block 72 standard with a Northrop Grumman SABR electronically-scanned radar, advanced flight computer, glass cockpit and other improvements.
The remaining 65 Greek F-16s will not be upgraded.
Intriguingly, the Associated Press said the deal “will give 85 of Greece’s fleet of F-16s capabilities similar to the much more advanced F-35 fighters minus stealth technology.”
All of the upgrade work will be carried out in Greece by Hellenic Aerospace Industries, and the upgraded plane could be delivered as early as 2020.
No cost figure was made public, but payment will be spread out until 2027 or 2028, with annual installments capped at €150 million ($ 182m), so the total price tag will probably not exceed $1.45 billion, according to local media.
In a congressional notification filed Oct. 17, 2017, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency estimated the cost of the upgrade at $2.404 billion, but it is not cleared which original options Greece has dropped.)