Greece has approached the US to join the F-35 fighter jet co-production program, weeks after formally requesting to buy 20 of the Lockheed Martin aircraft, Defense News revealed, citing Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.
Panagiotopoulos discussed the country’s potential entry into the program with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and director of the Pentagon’s F-35 Joint Program Office, Sean Burke, during his US visit this week, the outlet added.
“We already have made our interest known,” he told the outlet.
“We sent a letter of request, and we have to wait for a time – that’s the procedure – for the letter of acceptance. But everything that needs to be done on a procedural level for a swift entrance into this program is being done.”
Recent Arms Purchases From the US
Athens requested to buy the air force version, the F-35A, last month with an expected delivery after 2028. The outlet added that the country has also expressed interest in doubling the purchase order in the future.
Joining the program, which currently has eight members, would require Greece to invest in the aircraft’s manufacture.
The development comes weeks after the Greek Parliament approved the purchase of three MQ-9B SeaGuardian unmanned aerial vehicles and 50 Harpoon anti-ship missiles amid growing tensions with Turkey over air space violations, occupation of Northern Cyprus, and maritime disputes.
Lobbying Against Turkey
Panagiotopoulos, meanwhile, also met with Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, during his visit.
The meeting reportedly concerned Turkey. The Senator earlier threatened to block the $6 billion sale of 40 Lockheed Martin Block 70 F-16 fighter jets to Turkey.
Turkey was a member of the F-35 program but was blocked by the US in 2019 after it acquired the Russian S-400 air defense system.