Greek Government Approves F-16 Modernization Deal With US - Press Service

© AP Photo / Joseph NairF-16 fighter jets and surface-to-air missile system (File)
F-16 fighter jets and surface-to-air missile system (File) - Sputnik International
ATHENS (Sputnik) - The Greek Government Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense approved on Saturday an agreement with the United States on the upgrade of 85 F-16 fighter jets, the press service of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said.

Greece will send 85 aircraft to the United States to be upgraded to the Viper standard, the press service said.

According to the Greek Defense Ministry, the deal will cost Athens about 1.1 billion euros ($1.3 billion), including 10-15 percent discount granted by the United States. The first modernized jet will be delivered to Greece in two years, while the whole bunch will be upgraded by 2028.

The upgrade will include up to 125 APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radars, 123 Modular Mission Computers (MMCs), 123 LINK-16 Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems (MIDS-JTRS).

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The deal was agreed upon by US President Donald Trump and Tsipras in October last year. According to Trump, the agreement will strengthen the Hellenic Air Force and generate thousands of jobs in the United States.

Greece reportedly hopes to balance its Air Force against Turkey, which is planning to buy F-35 jets from the United States, amid current tensions between Athens and Ankara in the wake of Greece’s refusal to extradite eight Turkish soldiers, allegedly involved in the 2016 Turkish military coup attempt.

READ MORE: Greece Accuses Turkey of Violating Int'l Law by Obstructing Drilling in Cyprus

An attempted military coup took place in Turkey in July 2016. Ankara has accused Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has been living in the United States since 1999, and his followers of playing a key role in the coup. Gulen and his supporters have strongly denied these allegations and called for an international investigation. Since the attempted government takeover, Ankara has arrested thousands of public servants, military personnel, education workers, activists and journalists over their suspected links to the Gulen movement.

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