18 October 2017 |James LaPorta| UPI
Oct. 18 (UPI) — State Department officials announced Tuesday the possible sale of more than 120 upgrade kits from Lockheed Martin to the Greek government for their F-16 fighter fleet. The deal, if approved by Congress, is worth more than $2 billion.
The deal would upgrade the Hellenic Air Force’s F-16 fighter jets to the F-16 Block 5 configuration, which offers significant upgrades to the fighter’s capabilities and will allow Greece’s fleet to continue to be interoperable with both the United States and NATO during operations.
Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde, has praised Greece’s progress on reforms while saying that implementation of the adjustment program coupled with an agreement on debt relief are key to leading the debt-wracked country out of the crisis.
The announcement came as President Donald Trump met with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Washington, D.C., where he applauded Greece for meeting the goal of dedicating two percent of its gross domestic product on their military — and highlighted the F-16 upgrade plans announced later in the day by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.
“My administration has also informed Congress of a potential sale to Greece to upgrade its F-16 aircraft,” Trump said. “This agreement to strengthen the Hellenic Air Force is worth up to $2.4 billion and would generate thousands of American jobs. They’re upgrading their fleets of airplanes — the F-16 plane, which is a terrific plane.”
The proposed deal calls for upgrades to 123 F-16C and D fighter jets in order to shift the Hellenic Air Force to the more advanced block 5 standard, which includes advanced radar scanners and Identification Friend or Foe transponders, upgraded mission computers, enhanced tactical radios, multifunction displays among technical support, and spare parts.
DSCA said the proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the military balance in the region.
Trump supports ‘responsible debt relief plan’ for Greece “A strong and flourishing Greece provides immense opportunity for American trade, investment and job creation,” Trump said. Tspiras was expected to ask Trump to urge the International Monetary Fund to show flexibility to the recession-hit country. With the first steps toward recovery for Greece beginning to show, the progress of its economy largely depends on the IMF and the Trump administration’s stance on whether or not Greece’s debt should be written off. (17 October 2017)