The Hellenic Air Force has taken delivery of two upgraded F-16 fighter aircraft amid increasing tensions with Turkey.
The delivery is part of a $1.5-billion program to modernize Athens’ fleet of fighter jets to defend against evolving security threats.
The first two upgraded F-16s were presented at the Tanagra air base in northwest Athens. They are now equipped with advanced electronics, radars, and weapons systems.
“Any potential aggressor will have to think twice or thrice before trying their luck once the upgrade is completed,” Greece’s joint chiefs of staff head Gen. Constantinos Floros said during the presentation.
Greece is expected to receive 81 more upgraded F-16s by 2027.
In 2018, the European nation embarked on an initiative to upgrade up to 85 US-made F-16s to the Viper configuration.
Tensions With Turkey
Earlier this month, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that Turkey is fueling tensions and making “unacceptable” comments about Athens’ sovereign rights in the Aegean Sea.
The remark came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Greece of occupying demilitarized islands in the Aegean Sea.
Erdoğan also warned that Ankara is ready to “do what is necessary” when the time comes.
“I find the recent statements of the Turkish president unacceptable,” Mitsotakis told reporters, adding that the constant provocation is “extremely problematic.”
In August, Turkey accused fellow NATO member Greece of using a Russian-made air defense system to harass Turkish jets.
The “hostile action” reportedly saw an S-300 missile system lock onto Turkish F-16s flying at 10,000 feet west of Rhodes.
The Greek Defense Ministry dismissed the allegations, saying its defense system had never “put a lock” on Turkish warplanes.