The upgrade program for 85 Greek Air Force F-16 fighter jets to the Block 70/72 Viper standard will be formally launched on Monday, Lockheed Martin VP Business Development Initiatives in Europe Dennis Plessas said on Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference in Thessaloniki during the presentation of Lockheed Martin at the Thessaloniki International Fair, the U.S. company executive explained the timetable of the upgrade and said “a great part of the upgrade will take place in Greece.”
The upgrade of the 85 warplanes to Vipers “will provide the Hellenic Air Force with an entirely new aircraft, as the only element we shall keep is the fuselage,” Plessas said. He said that the upgraded F-16s will keep the armaments balance in the region in light of Turkey’s orders for F-35s. However, he noted, the F-16 is not a stealth aircraft like the F-35.
He added that the upgraded F-16s will include new radars, the digital sweeping model APG83, that share 95 percent of the software and 75 percent of the hardware of the F-35.
The company official said that the first two years will be spent on engineering for the prototype and the registration of the systems. The installation on the Greek fighter jets will take place during the third year of the program, and the Hellenic Air Force pilots will be trained in the fourth year. The training is expected to be brief, as he said, because of the expertise of Greek jet fighter pilots.
Among other issues, Plessas said that 70 percent of the Hercules transport planes’ latest edition, J, delivered by Lockheed Martin to Australia “was made by Greek hands.”