US signals green light for fighter jet sale to Greece

A US Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II jet fighter is seen exhibited during the 2018 Berlin International Air Show (ILA). Britta Pedersen/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa © DPA International

The US government plans to authorize the sale of up to 40 state-of-the-art F-35 stealth fighter jets to Greece, according to a letter from US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, which his office published on Saturday.

Just hours earlier, Washington had also announced the sale of up to 40 F-16 fighter jets to Turkey after Ankara approved Sweden’s accession to NATO earlier in the week.

Both deals still have to be authorized by the US Congress, but approval is considered likely.

In a video address, Mitsotakis welcomed the move, which “seals the strategic depth of US-Greek relations.”

In his letter, Blinken also emphasized common interests in the Mediterranean region. The US has four large military bases in Greece, which it has recently expanded considerably.

Athens had already expressed its interest in the fighter jets in May 2022. However, in order not to upset the military balance between the feuding NATO members Turkey and Greece, the Greeks had to be patient, according to observers.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had linked his country’s approval of Sweden’s accession to NATO to the fighter jet deliveries from the US, which are now taking place.

According to sources in the Greek Ministry of Defence, following the purchase of the F-35 fighter jets, Greece is the only country in the eastern Mediterranean, apart from Israel, to have these ultra-modern aircraft.

However, some experts are also concerned about the armament of the two neighbouring countries. In recent years, there have been repeated incidents between Turkish and Greek fighter jets in the Aegean.

Athens and Ankara have been at loggerheads for years over disputed sovereign rights in the eastern Mediterranean and natural gas deposits under the seabed.

Source: DPA International