A Lot More F-35 Fighters Could be Headed to Europe

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter NATO
January 29, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: F-35F-35 Joint Strike FighterStealthMilitaryDefenseRussiaNATO

A Lot More F-35 Fighters Could be Headed to Europe

Greece is on track to become the latest NATO member to adopt the F-35. It is already operated by Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom, while Belgium, Finland, Germany, and Poland have ordered jets. Lockheed Martin expects Europe to have about 500 F-35s by the decade's end.

It is expected this week that the Greek Ministry of Defense will receive a draft letter of acceptance from the United States for the request to buy the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.

Athens had sent an official request to Washington for the purchase of forty of the fifth-generation stealth fighters in June 2022.

The Hellenic Air Force could begin to receive the jets around 2027-28.

The request approval has been a multi-stage process – one that involved a lot of "moving parts," including when its historic rival and also NATO ally Turkey could receive a new block of F-16 Fighting Falcons, also made by Lockheed Martin.

U.S. President Joe Biden sent a letter to leaders of key Capitol Hill committees last week informing them of his intention to begin the formal notification process for the sale of the Fighting Falcon aircraft to Turkey once Ankara completes Sweden's NATO accession process. U.S. lawmakers approved the sale of the F-16s and upgrade kits for Ankara's current fleet of aircraft. The holdup of Turkey's F-16s had been a major issue between Ankara and Washington – one that now appears to be resolved.

The sale to Turkey includes forty new F-16s and equipment to modernize 79 of its existing F-16s, while the sale to Greece includes forty F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters and related equipment.

Greek F-35s Coming Soon – And They're Not Alone

Greece has been one of the NATO members that typically spent more than two percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on its national defense. It has increased its military acquisitions in recent years due to its tensions with Turkey.

However, it was last month that during a landmark visit by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to Greece, the longtime sparring partners agreed to focus on pursuing good neighborly relations, Reuters reported. Athens and Ankara agreed to reboot their relations while establishing a roadmap designed to usher in a new era of closer ties between the two NATO allies but historical foes.

Greece is on track to become the latest NATO member to adopt the F-35. It is already operated by Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom, while Belgium, Finland, Germany, and Poland have ordered jets. Lockheed Martin expects Europe to have about 500 F-35s by the decade's end.

It was also on Monday that the Czech Republic signed an agreement with the United States to acquire two dozen F-35 fighter jets as part of a deal worth about 150 billion Czech koruna ($6.6 billion), the biggest single purchase for the Czech military.

F-35

Czech Defense Minister Jana ernochová and U.S. Ambassador Bijan Sabet signed a memorandum of understanding for the deal. The Czechs also signed a letter of offer and acceptance, the final step in completing a contract between the governments, the Czech Defense Ministry said, according to the Associated Press.

"By signing this intergovernmental agreement, our country and also our army enter a new era," ernochová told reporters.

F-35

The first of Prague's twenty-four F-35s should be delivered in 2031, with the rest by 2035. The American aircraft will replace the fourteen JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets from Sweden that are currently used by the Czech army.

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. You can email the author: [email protected].