Air Force: 6 “Aegean Serpents” on track for delivery

After the Rafale, the Air Force acquires a second type of 4++ generation fighters, consolidating its supremacy in the Aegean and Eastern Mediterranean.

By Christos Mazanitis

The block on the sale of new F-16s to Turkey puts Greece in an advantageous position, dramatically tilting the balance of air power in our favor.

Because it may seem that the leadership of the armed forces is currently running at the pace of F-35s, but until their acquisition there is still a long way to go. Already, however, many things have changed, leaving Turkey behind in developments.

The arrival of the Rafale was a power multiplier for the Air Force, which acquired a powerful twin-engine fighter, with sophisticated battlefield scanning and surveillance systems and weapons that dramatically change the balance.

Already, according to information, some of which was also published in Sunday’s Realnews, the Minister of National Defense, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, in the private meeting he had with his American counterpart Lloyd Austin during his recent trip to the USA, raised the priorities for the F-35 program, as set by the Prime Minister himself, with an emphasis on the sub-construction work that must be undertaken by the domestic defense industry and the ODA, in which Lockheed Martin is an Executive Client.

In fact, he raised the issue of the ongoing program – a bridge to upgrade the F-16s to Vipers, highlighting the degree of involvement of the Greek defense industry.

In this regard, the American company officials revealed that in November 2022 the first 6 “Aegean Vipers” will be delivered to the Air Force.

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This practically means that the procedures of the program to upgrade a total of 83 fighters are being accelerated.

Already, on June 15 and 16, as part of the first phase of the Air Force’s F-16 Viper upgrade program, two state-of-the-art fighter jets located at the facilities of the Hellenic Aviation Industry (the prototype is already flying in the USA) performed the their maiden flight. The program has been undertaken by the Hellenic Aviation Industry and the manufacturing company Lockheed Martin.

During the test flight, the upgraded systems of the F-16 were checked, which was crowned with complete success, giving the trigger for the smooth continuation of the work and the rest of the Air Force’s aircraft to be upgraded.

The flight of the upgraded Viper F-16 version was supported by an Air Force chase aircraft and lasted about an hour. It took off at 11.00 am, performed a local flight and landed at 11.58 am after performing a series of prescribed tests and scrutinisations. The tests were performed to confirm the safety and reliability of the design, as well as the functionality of the installed equipment.

After the successful outcome of the tests, the managing director of EAB, Mr. D. Papakostas, said: “We are completely happy with the progress being made, as everything is going according to the schedules. The Company serves the Air Force’s fleet upgrade program, demonstrating consistency, focus on results, organizational orientation and sound strategic planning, always in close cooperation with the manufacturer Lockheed Martin and the Air Force. The EAB is the largest reservoir of expertise in the country, with absolute dedication to our national Defense and Security.”

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Completely satisfied with the success of the flight operations, the Director of Lockheed Martin Aero’s Hellenic Operations in the Hellenic Aviation Industry, Mr. Charles Akers, said: “I witnessed today the greatness of the Viper team, as they prepared and perfectly executed the first flight of a proof kit jet WJ:06. The LMA and ODA teams had excellent collaboration with the LMA pilot and support team, who developed the plan and executed it flawlessly. What a display of professionalism and expertise. I’m so proud of the team, it’s an honor to have been a part of it and I’m grateful to have witnessed this outstanding performance.”

The Hellenic Aviation Industry will “armor” the Air Force with at least six upgraded F-16 Viper aircraft in 2022, constituting a safe guarantee for the performance of the total of 83 upgraded aircraft that will be completed in 2027.

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