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The US State Department has approved a potential Foreign Military Sale (FMS) to Greece of up to 40 F-35A conventional take-off and landing Joint Strike Fighters and related equipment, the US Defense Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) announced on 26 January 2024.

The proposed sale, which is worth an estimated USD 8.6 billion (EUR 7.94 billion), has been passed to the US Congress for final approval. Assuming the FMS progresses, this would make Greece the 19th country that will operate F-35s.

Sensitive to the regional rivalry between NATO members Greece and Turkey, the Greek F-35 FMS approval was announced on the same the DSCA stated that the US State Department had approved an F-16 FMS package for Turkey, which was approved to acquire 40 new F-16 Block 70s and modernise 79 of its existing F-16s to the F-16V standard.

Turkey previously joined the Lockheed Martin-led F-35 programme in July 2002, initially intending to order 116 F-35As to replace its F-16 fleet, but was ejected from the programme on 17 July 2019 after refusing to cancel a programme to buy Russian S-400 air defence systems that would have compromised the F-35’s stealth characteristics.

The backbone of the Hellenic Air Force’s combat air capability is currently provided by a fleet of more than a hundred F-16C/Ds, 84 of which are being upgraded to the F-16V standard, as well as a Rafale fleet that will number 24 aircraft. However, the air force also operates older types, such as the Mirage 2000-5 and F-4 Phantom II, which the F-35As will replace.

As well as up to 40 F-35As, the potential Greek F-35 FMS deal includes 42 Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engines (40 installed and two spares), plus various associated avionics and other systems, spares, and engineering, technical, logistics, maintenance and programme support.

The principal contractors for the deal will be Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company out of Fort Worth, Texas, and Pratt & Whitney Military Engines out of East Hartford, Connecticut.

A Greek purchase of up to 40 F-35As has been approved by the US State Department. (Photo: Lockheed Martin)