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Sun, Sep 18, 2022

Greece Takes Delivery of Upgraded F-16s

Hellenic Air Force Readies for Turkish Aggression

Situated at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa, Greece—officially the Hellenic Republic—is the birthplace of Western civilization, philosophy, literature, and political science, the cradle of democracy, patriarch of foundational mathematical and scientific precepts, and blessed creator of moussaka, saganaki, and baklava.

The nation is also on the ragged edge of war with its historic regional rival, Turkey—originator of Santa Clause, the world’s first military marching band, opulent public baths, and excellent coffee.

Relationships between the two ancient states have soured following Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repeated, thinly veiled threats that his forces stand ready to invade Greece’s islands in the eastern Aegean Sea. Erdogan claims subject islands have been illegally militarized—an assertion Athens refutes, stating the defense of its territories is essential to Greek national security, stability, and socioeconomic wellbeing.

Following years of financial crisis and forced savings, Greece has embarked on a multi-billion-dollar modernization of its armed forces—primarily to counter the burgeoning Turkish threat. In addition to French Rafale fighter jets and FDI frigates, the Greek government is upgrading 83 of its legacy F-16 fighters to the Block 72 Viper variant—the most advanced version of General Dynamics’ timeless fighter in service in Europe.

The upgrade comprises extensive enhancements of the F-16’s avionics, targeting, and radar capabilities, to include: the APG-83 AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar; a new Center Pedestal Display (CPD); the AN/APX-126 Advanced IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) system; Link 16 datalink, full NVIS (Night Vision Imaging System) and JHCMS II (Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System II) compatibility; a new Embedded GPS/INS (EGI); a modern, commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS)-based avionics subsystem; a high-volume, high-speed data bus; and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS). The Viper F-16 variant also features reduced radar cross-section, large conformal fuel tanks, and improved missile launcher adapters.

The first two upgraded F-16s—which will be used for pilot training—were presented during a ceremony at the Tanagra air-base northwest of the Grecian capital city of Athens. The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) expects an additional four to six upgraded aircraft to be delivered by the end of 2022, with the balance of the 83 fighters to be completed by 2027.

U.S. Ambassador to Greece George J. Tsunis states: “It is a true pleasure and honor for me to be here today to celebrate the next achievement in the Hellenic Air Force’s prized and combat proven F-16 program. Greece’s F-16 Vipers will immediately enhance NATO’s interoperability with 4th and 5th-generation fighter aircraft, ensuring our alliance can defend our security interests. The U.S.-Greece defense cooperation is the strongest it has ever been. The Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement framework has strengthened and advanced our common defense and strategic interests for more than three decades.”

General Constantinos Floros, head of Greece's joint chiefs of staff, called the F-16 upgrade program “… an issue of the highest national importance.” The general added: “Any potential aggressor will have to think twice or thrice before trying their luck.”

FMI: www.gd.com

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