Greece Mulls Fighter Upgrade, French Frigate Lease



The upgrading of 85 Greek Air Force F-16 fighter jets and the hiring of two frigates from France were discussed at the meeting of the Governmental Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense, on Monday.

The meeting at Maximos Mansion was in light of the ongoing Turkish provocations in the Aegean. No decision on the F-16 or the hiring of the French warships was made, but the council decided to activate a subprogramme for the weapons systems of C-27 aircraft.

The Greek government is concerned over the possible escalation of tension between Greece and Turkey until the elections in the neighboring country on June 24. As elections approach, nationalist rhetoric in Ankara increases.

Regarding the upgrade of the F-16, the agreement between the Greek Air Force and the United States is likely to close within next week, with the remaining differences being in the time of payment.

The issue of hiring two FREMM type frigates from France to enhance the Greek Navy sea power in the Eastern Mediterranean will have to wait, as French officials will arrive in Athens next month for the next stage of talks.

However, French media on Monday reported that Frenche Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, has ruled out the possibility of conceding the two frigates.

According to Mer et Marin website, the French ministry is against the leasing of the two FREMM frigates to Greece because that would weaken the operational capacity of the French Navy.

Parly was in Toulon on Friday to meet with the crews of the warships involved in the recent operation in Syria. As La Tribune newspaper and France 3 television report, the French minister said there is no official issue for leasing the two frigates to Greece.