Greece Wants the F-35 Stealth Fighter. It Might Not Happen Quickly

January 10, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: F-35GreeceTurkeyMilitaryNATOSwedenF-16S-400

Greece Wants the F-35 Stealth Fighter. It Might Not Happen Quickly

Greece has sought the F-35 for sometime, yet any proposed sale by the U.S. of fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets to Athens is reportedly being delayed due to the complex geopolitics of Washington's relations with Turkey.


Greece Wants the F-35 – But Turkey and Sweden Could Delay That Acquisition - Currently, ten NATO members, along with another half a dozen partner nations, either operate or plan to adopt the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II. Two NATO alliance countries would like to join the program. One likely will never operate the fifth-generation stealth fighter, while the other is currently in a related "holding pattern."

Those countries are regional rivals Turkey and Greece.


As has been previously reported, Turkey was famously expelled from the program despite being an early program member after Ankara moved forward with its controversial decision to adopt the Russian-made S-400 "Triumf" air defense system. The United States and NATO argued that the systems were incompatible and that utilizing both would compromise the security of the fighter jet.

It remains unclear whether Turkey regrets its decision, and there has been speculation it only moved forward as a matter of principle and to save face. To date, Ankara's S-400s are not currently operational.

It was just last month that Turkish Defense Minister Ya ar Güler told reporters that the S-400 system would only be utilized when needed.

"This is a defense system. Don't we use a defensive weapon when someone attacks us? No country launches an attack on another by declaring, 'I will attack you in two hours.' In a wartime scenario, you need to move your aircraft, operate hundreds of trains and declare mobilization, and so on. In other words, for a country to launch an airstrike on another without anyone noticing is very difficult," Güler told journalists, per

What About Greece?

Greece has also sought the F-35, yet any proposed sale by the U.S. of fifth-generation F-35 fighter jets to Athens is reportedly being delayed due to the complex geopolitics of Washington's relations with Turkey.

Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Gerapetritis said in an interview with Skai TV on Saturday that it is only a matter of time before Greece joined the F-35 program, but he also acknowledged the complexity of the situation.


Gerapetritis made the comments in advance of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken's visit to Athens, and the minister said he would again request the purchase of the Lightning II.

"They (F-35) would significantly upgrade the country's defense. We will discuss this issue (during Blinken’s visit). I believe there will be positive developments," Gerapetritis explained.

Closer Greeco-Turkish Relations

Any request from Athens also comes after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's landmark visit to Greece last month, after the two neighboring countries experienced a tumultuous relationship in recent years.


Erdogan said in a news conference with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens, that any issue between Turkey and Greece could be resolved and that together the aim was to "turn the Aegean into a sea of peace and cooperation."

Turkey and Greece announced the Athens Declaration on Friendly Relations and Good-Neighborliness, in which they stressed that they are committed to fostering friendly relations, mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and understanding and seeking resolution to any dispute between in line with international law.

The F-35 in the Balance

Greece has for years been seeking to buy twenty of the fifth-generation aircraft, with an option to buy an additional 20 F-35As over time.

However, it has been reported that Washington has essentially tied the acceptance response to Athens with the progress of the request made by Ankara for the acquisition of new F-16 "Viper" aircraft, along with the upgrade of older ones now in Turkey's arsenal.

Essentially, the U.S. seeks to simultaneously announce the sale of the Turkish F-16s and the Greek F-35s to maintain some semblance of balance in the Aegean.

The Swedish Situation

The situation has been further complicated by the continued holdup of Sweden's NATO accession, which has prevented the request for F-16s from being approved, and in turn that has caused a delay in the F-35s being sold to Greece as well.


It was in October that Erdogan submitted a bill to the country's parliament approving Sweden's NATO membership. However, the Parliament is delaying the ratification of the bill – and experts have suggested it is being held up over the F-16.

While the White House has said that the is no quid pro quo and that any F-16 sale to Turkey would be independent of Ankara's approval of Sweden's membership in NATO, it does seem that if Turkey gets the F-16s, Greece could get the F-35s and Sweden could join NATO.

To make all of it happen, Secretary Blinken will likely be logging a lot of miles. 

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu 

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. Email the author: [email protected]