The Hellenic Air Force (HAF) has proudly received its tenth F-16V Fighting Falcon aircraft. The arrival of this advanced multi-role fighter marks the successful transition from the F-16C/D Block 52+/52M-standard to the cutting-edge ‘Viper’ configuration, signifying a noteworthy advancement in Greece’s defense capabilities. The auspicious occasion was jointly announced by Lockheed Martin and the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) on August 3. A total of 83 F-16C/D Block 52+/52M aircraft within the HAF’s fleet are slated for upgrade to the new F-16V-standard, with completion projected by 2027. This ambitious upgrade initiative, initially outlined in October 2017 at a budget of $1.5 billion for an eight-year program, has been slightly modified due to attrition losses, resulting in the upgrading of 83 aircraft.
Collaborating closely with Lockheed Martin both in Greece and the United States, HAI has been instrumental in executing the aircraft upgrade program within the nation. HAI celebrated a significant milestone on January 17, 2021, with the successful completion of its inaugural ‘Viper’ upgrade. A steady pace is anticipated, with 12 F-16C/Ds scheduled for the new standard each year. The tangible progress was evidenced when the HAF took delivery of its first two upgraded F-16Vs (serials 06-0005 and 06-0006) on September 12, 2022, at Tanagra Air Base. An additional six aircraft were anticipated to follow suit by the close of the previous year.
A pivotal facet of this comprehensive upgrade program involves the integration of the AN/APG-83 Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR), supplanting the original AN/APG-68(V)9 pulse-Doppler radar system in the F-16C/D Block 52+/52M configuration. Moreover, the revamped F-16Vs will be endowed with advanced features including the AN/APX-126 Advanced Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) system, a Link-16 tactical datalink, Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) II, Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS), Embedded GPS/INS (EGI), state-of-the-art commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) avionics, high-speed data connectivity, and the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS). Furthermore, these upgraded F-16Vs will be outfitted to accommodate Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) and Reconnaissance (RECCE) pods.
The roots of Greece’s F-16 partnership trace back to November 1984, when the nation expressed its intent to acquire 34 single-seat F-16C and six two-seat F-16D aircraft, earmarking the replacement of the aging F-5A/B Freedom Fighter aircraft. The initial contract for this strategic program was inked in January 1987, with the first aircraft entering service in 1989. Since then, the Hellenic Air Force has procured a total of 170 F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft in Block 30, Block 50, and Block 52 configurations. The comprehensive Viper upgrade program will not only fortify Greece’s defense capabilities but also inject over $1 billion into the Greek defense industry, thereby amplifying the nation’s technological prowess and fostering international collaboration.