Double trip to Washington with equipment “basket” – What we want from the USA

Why are Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and General Konstantinos Floros, the Chief of Defense Forces, packing for Washington?

OF MANOS CHARALAMPAKI – SOURCE: THE NEWS – [Μετατροπή σε κείμενο: ]

With requests and high expectations for the acquisition of weapons systems that will further strengthen the Armed Forces, Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos and General Konstantinos Floros, the Chief of Defense Forces, are traveling to the USA in the coming days.

In particular, the Head of GEETHA is scheduled to visit the USA on the 10th of the month. He will have a meeting with his American counterpart, Chief of the US Armed Forces, General Mark Miley. Then, on July 18, the Minister of Defense will travel to America as a guest of his counterpart Lloyd Austin. The acquisition of 20 5th generation F-35 fighter jets will definitely be at the center of the contacts between the two men. Athens has initiated the process for the inclusion of stealth fighters in the Air Force – over time, from the end of this decade – by sending the official letter to the USA (Letter of Request).

But it is considered certain that both Nikos Panagiotopoulos and Konstantinos Floros will request more data and details about the F-35 and the changes that should be made at the level of infrastructure in the PA. It is very likely that both will visit the facilities of the manufacturing company Lockheed Martin in Texas in order to see the F-35 up close and learn more technical information on the spot. Besides, the leadership of the Ministry of Defense will have discussions with American officials about the upgrade of 38 F-16 block 50, a program that was approved a few days ago by the relevant committee of the Parliament.

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But of course the political and military leadership of the Ministry of Defense will have the opportunity during its stay in the USA to formulate several requests for the acquisition of either brand new weapons systems or from the reserves of the American army, the so-called excess defense materials (Excess Defense Articles EDA ). The staffs believe that the expansion of the American footprint in Greece with the MDCA, as well as the recognition of our country as a pillar of stability and a valuable hub for NATO, gives us the opportunity to negotiate from a better position the acquisition of American weapons systems.

Athens has launched the purchase of three MQ9 unmanned aerial vehicles with a ground station, while it is also interested in and negotiating the acquisition (from the US military’s stockpile) of Black Hawk multi-role helicopters. Requests for amphibious vehicles, armored Bradleys, M109 guns, all as surplus materials, are still expected to be redrafted. The Army is also interested in the provision of vehicles of all uses such as trailers, vans, tank carriers. It is also possible to consider the possibility of acquiring older technology drones from the reserves of the US Army. And this is because the leadership of the Greek “Pentagon” is making an effort to cover the gaps in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles.

For the Turkish F-16s. Both the Minister of Defense and the Chief of the General Staff will not limit themselves to efforts to strengthen the Armed Forces, but will also use their contacts to inform the Americans about Turkish provocation.

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The possibility of upgrading the Turkish F-16s by the Americans is expected to be at the center of the discussions. The Congress is the one who will decide, but, as expected, the Minister of Defense and the Chief of GEETHA, will explain to the expatriate and Greek-American senators the consequences of such a development.

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