Monday, September 28, 2009

Hellenic Air Force Modernization Program?



A few days ago various Greek sources reported that the Supreme Air Force Council approved a program to modernize over 120 F-16 fighter jets plus another 20 Mirage 2000 jets to the latest Block50/52+ Advanced and Dash 5 respectively. The news was welcomed by various websites and blogs as the issue is considered to be of crucial importance for the Air Force. For an example see this: http://strategy-geopolitics4.blogspot.com/2009/09/f-16-block-52-advanced-mirage-2000-5.html

Unfortunately today “DefenceNet” posted an article saying that high ranking Air Force officers denied that such a decision has been made and that only a feasibility study has been approved. This is odd considering the fact that this same feasibility study was ordered back in January of 2008, again according to “DefenceNet”. The DefenceNet article can be found here: http://www.defencenet.gr/defence/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=8964&Itemid=49

The Hellenic Air Force operates a variety of different F-16 versions (blocks) with the oldest being around 20 years old. The oldest Block 30 machines have only received moderate improvements from the Falcon Up and Falcon Star programs. Among other things this has enabled them to fire the medium range AIM-120 Amraam air-to-air missile.

A decision regarding modernising the fleet is already overdue as it is considered by some to be a waste of money to modernize aircraft that have logged as many hours as the Greek Block 30s and Mirage EGMs. Some would prefer to see that money be spent on newer aircraft.

One more complicating factor is that Greece will have general elections soon. The Socialist Party, which is expected to win, has already announced that it will review all current and pending defence procurement projects. Undoubtedly the fleet modernisation program will receive heavy scrutiny as in total it is expected to cost more than 1.5 billion USD.

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