Air Force: The ambitious plan for 200 fighters that takes it off – F35 and Rafale

It’s too high for next decade. This is what yesterday’s statements by the Minister of National Defence, who visited the armed Directorate-General for Defence Equipment and Investment (GDAEE). And while in the previous days he had given a first picture of HAF’s “older” equipment, Minister of National Defence Nikos Dendias went even further, setting the “story” of fighters for 2030 in 200 and even referred to 4,5th and 5th generation aircraft. In other words, Nikos Dendias made it clear that our Air Force fleet over the next decade will consist of American stealth fighters F-35, French aircraft Rafale, but also American F-16 all upgraded to Viper configuration. At the same time he reiterated that the procedures for the sale of the oldest generation of Mirage 2000-5 aircraft, F-16 block 30 but also legendary F-4 Phantom, which this year complement 50 years of service and offer to defend the Greek skies. This is undoubtedly an extremely ambitious design, which not only transforms the Air Force into the most powerful quality air force in the region, but gives it the prospect of supremacy over the next decades, as its fighter fleet will consist of last generation aircraft, which can constantly be upgraded – especially F-35 and Rafale – and carry as modern platforms the most powerful and effective weapons. However, the more ambitious the plan is, the more relentless the numbers are, as for our Air Force to touch the 200 4,5th and 5th generation fighters a number of decisions are needed to sell and buy fighters and also funds that may even exceed 8 billion euros. Upgrade F-16 to Viper The design undoubtedly begins with the upgrade to Viper configuration of 38 F-16 block 50 fighters, which belong to 341 and 347 War Squadrons “BELOS” and “Perseas”. Decision now taken, as their limited upgrade is cancelled, as originally announced and negotiations are now beginning with the manufacturer Lockheed Martin and USAF in order for the 38 fighters to enter the 82 F-16 upgrade program, which is in full progress. The cost of upgrading the F-16 block 50 is determined at around 1 billion, while part of the money can be saved by sale to either the manufacturer or third parties of the systems, which will be removed from the fighters and replaced with new ones during the process of upgrading them and also by the garages, which are already in excess of 82 under the F-16 upgrade, with first the radars replaced by modern AESAs. The sale of F-4 Phantom and Mirage 2000-5 The possibility of selling old F-4 Phantoms is not considered an easy case, given that no air force in the world anymore – except Turkish, which will soon withdraw them – does not use legendary but outdated fighters. On the contrary, increased possibilities for sale gather both Mirage 2000-5 although still, according to, no buyer has been found but only exploratory contacts have been made. However, it is considered that F-16 block 30, which are in very good condition if they enter the market, will be a lure to many air carriers. With the additional upgrade of the 38 F-16 block 30, the Viper number will reach a total of 120. If they are added to all 24 Rafale which will feature the HAF arsenal in late 2024 the 4.5th generation aircraft available to the Air Force will reach 144. So to fill the roof of 200 fighters more than 50 new aircraft are required. Already the Air Force is starting negotiations to acquire at least 20 stealth F-35 fighters after the “green light” that Americans lit through LOA in the Greek request. The acquisition of F-35 and Rafale Nikos Dendias, referring to the cost and answering a relevant question in the context of parliamentary control, stressed that “the cost of obtaining and operating the F-35 depends on many parameters and the procedures necessary to determine the contract have not yet been completed”. However, an initial assessment can be made by reference to the recently made agreements with the Czech Republic on 24 aircraft with their armaments, training and support against 4.5 billion and Poland, which spent 4.6 billion on purchasing 32 fighters without including armament and support. The assessment made for the Greek programme concerning the acquisition of 20 F-35 fighters, with armament and training, is about $4 billion without “compensating” benefits (SSI now), which the Greek Staff has already rejected. The purchase of 20 stealth fighters F-35 raises the total number of HAF aircraft to 164 so 36 are still required in order to complete the number of 200 fighters. Consequently, the Air Force will either proceed with the activation of the option for at least another 20 5th generation fighters or turn to the French for buying additional Rafale, in order to form another Squadron of “throws” to even approach the “story” set by political leadership. Such a decision is given that it will be based on a number of criteria, with the geostrategic footprint first of course. source: – Reportage: Kostas Sarikas