Continued Military Modernization in Greece Amid Thawing Relations with Turkey

On December 15, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) revealed a deal that includes Black Hawk helicopters, miniguns, machine guns, rockets, advanced electronic suits, training, and logistical support for Greece. Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin subsidiary, is the primary contractor. This development is significant because Greece announced in July that it planned to increase its defense spending by around $12.62 billion over the next four years, including upgrades for 37 F-16 Block 50 aircraft and at least 20 F-35 fighter jets. 


In January 2021, Greece signed a deal with Dassault Aviation to purchase 18 Rafale fighter jets, and in March 2022, it signed another deal for six more, bringing the total to 24. Greece has also sent an official request to purchase 20 F-35 fifth-generation stealth fighter jets from the United States. Speaking at a NATO summit in June 2022, Greek Prime Minister Mitsotakis informed reporters that they intend to acquire an F-35 squadron with the possibility of a second. 

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Greek military modernization is progressing rapidly, with the acquisition of three FDI-type frigates, 24 Rafale fighter jets from France, and 83 additional F-16 fighter modifications. Furthermore, Greece's National Security Governmental Council recently approved the purchase of Israeli-made SPIKE NLOS missile systems. Greece, a NATO member, spends more than 2% of its GDP on defense and has undertaken a comprehensive military modernization program in response to tensions with another NATO ally, Turkey. 


The two countries have been at odds over energy resources, the divided island of Cyprus, overflights in the Aegean, and the extent of their continental shelf and maritime boundaries. On December 14, Greece and Turkey agreed to rebuild their relationship and usher in a new phase of more robust connections between the two countries. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Greek President Sophia agreed to increase trade volumes, work on issues that have kept them apart, particularly in the Aegean Sea, focus on pursuing good neighborly relations, maintain open lines of communication, and seek military confidence-building measures to eliminate sources of tension. The purchase of American helicopters and other military equipment, announced just one day later, indicates that despite a thaw in tensions with Ankara, Athens' military modernization and acquisitions will continue.


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