Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the Hellenic Air Force will take different measures regarding the defense of its national territory, air space and territorial waters. The purchase of 20 F-35A stealth fighters initially intended for the Turkish Air Force is part of the program. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a virtual “green light” to the supply of 20 F-35s during his recent visit to Greece, and the deal “was discussed and agreed”. Noteworthy, as part of the deal, six jets will be purchased in 2022 and “will be delivered together with the first six Rafale fighter jets from France.”
On May 10, 2018, the first F-35A (serial 18-0001) destined to the Turkish Air Force performed its first flight at Lockheed Martin Ft. Worth facility, Texas, piloted by US Navy test pilot Cmdr. Tony Wilson. The first flight of a Turkish pilot occurred few months later, in August 2018.
In the meanwhile several of U.S. congressmen had urged the U.S. administration to suspend the procurement of these fighters to Turkey because of the latter’s decision to buy Russian S-400 advanced air defense systems. The U.S. eventually removed Turkey from the F-35 joint strike fighter program in July 2019, following Ankara’s acceptance of the S-400 Russian-made air defense system.
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft that is intended to perform both air superiority and strike missions. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Lockheed Martin is the prime F-35 contractor, with principal partners Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems. The aircraft has three main variants: the conventional takeoff and landing F-35A (CTOL), the short take-off and vertical-landing F-35B (STOVL), and the carrier-based F-35C (CV/CATOBAR).