The Hellenic Air Force has taken delivery of the first two F-16 fighters upgraded to the F-16V configuration by Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) in cooperation with Lockheed Martin.
The hand-over ceremony took place at HAI’s Tanagra facilities on September 12, a little over two years ago after Lockheed first received a $279 million contract to support the upgrades.
Greece plans to upgrade a total of 83 airframes, out of around 150 F-16 aircraft currently in service.
The upgrade is designed to introduce capabilities comparable to the fifth-generation F-35 Lightning aircraft that is built by Lockheed Martin. The F-16V configuration introduces an active electronically scanned array radar (APG-83), a large-format, high-resolution display, and a high-volume, high-speed data bus.
“We will now have a steady stream of aircraft delivered to the air force until we reach a total of eighty-three. This strategic relationship between Lockheed Martin and HAI, which reflects the strategic relationship between Greece and the USA, was confirmed here and with the presence today of the US ambassador to Greece near us at this ceremony,” Greek defense minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said at the handover ceremony.
“It is a true pleasure and honor for me to be here today to celebrate the next achievement in the Hellenic Air Force’s prized, and combat proven, F-16 program. Greece’s F-16 Vipers will immediately enhance NATO’s interoperability with 4th and 5th-generation fighter aircraft, ensuring our alliance can defend our security interests,” US ambassador George James Tsunis said.
The F-16 upgrade itself includes 1.5 billion dollars across 8 years, but it is only a part of the 10 billion dollar F-16 program spanning 35 years of procurement and sustainment successes, the US embassy release said.
In addition to upgrading its F-16 fleet, the Hellenic Air Force is increasing its capabilities through the purchase of 24 French Rafale fighters under two contracts totaling 3 billion euros ($3.4B), signed in January and September 2021.