Mitsotakis says US will provide Greece with 'free military equipment'
The Greek PM hopes that the F-35s would be delivered in 2028 by the US, which he believes has every right to defend a 'good ally like Greece'.
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis confirmed on Thursday that the US will provide Greece with "significant military equipment" for free.
During an interview with Greek broadcaster Skai, the PM said: "I mean not only the approval of [the delivery of] F-35 [fighter jets], which is very important, but also the possibility of getting surplus [military] equipment, significant surplus equipment that will be given to us for free. That is what the US is doing and has every reason to do it to a greater extent for a good ally like Greece."
Mitsotakis also hoped that the F-35s would be delivered in 2028. This may come as a hit to Turkey since it has also requested to purchase F-16s and the US has constantly refused.
Greece was in talks with the US which resulted in "a very strong defense agreement for five years," for which Mitsotakis believed Greece "will soon have good news regarding the support that the US provides to Greece - always and regardless of what happens in the negotiations with Turkey."
He added that the French-made Belharra-class frigates for Greece were arriving ahead of schedule, with the first due to be delivered in September - it was supposed to be received in 2025.
According to the PM, it is Athens' responsibility to "have a very strong deterrence capacity," specifically against Turkey, with his country "able to achieve that at a rapid pace."
Is there a catch?
As stated in the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement between the US and Greece, the US is permitted to establish new military bases on Greek territory after having expanded the term of the agreement from one to five years.
The US was further given access to the northern Alexandroupolis port to facilitate the delivery of weapons to Eastern Europe and Ukraine, which Mitsotakis believes made Greece the US' main partner in the region.
The US was attempting to set up a base at the port of Alexandroupolis which Greece also rejected a request for.
19 arms procurement programs amounting to 11.5 billion euros ($12.9 billion) are being implemented in Greece, including 24 French-made Rafale fighter aircraft, Belharra-class frigates, and the modernization of 83 F-16 Block 52+ and 52+ Advanced fighters to the Viper variant — the most advanced variant of F-16.
It is still planning to purchase over 20 F-35 fifth-generation fighters.
This 'free' delivery must have a catch, since just back in February, Greece was denying the US' request to provide weaponry to Ukraine.
"But we said that we could not grant this request because we could in no way provide any assistance by weakening our defenses. S-300s are where they are. They were bought and arrived in Greece for certain reasons, and as long as these reasons exist, we are not going to agree to any weakening of our defense system," Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos said.