17:37 28.12.2019(updated 17:39 28.12.2019) Get short URL
In early October, the US and Greece signed a revised defence cooperation pact, described by the American side as critical to responding to new security challenges in the Mediterranean Sea.
Athens has clinched a $279.7 million deal with the American aerospace giant Lockheed Martin on the for the modernisation of a Greek fleet of US-made F-16 fighter jets.
The Athens-Macedonia news agency reported on Friday that the agreement was inked after the sides finalised details on Lockheed's use of a Greek subcontractor. Lockheed Martin has yet to comment on the matter.
The reported signing comes after Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told the parliament earlier this month that 84 of 150 F-16 fighters from the Greek air force would be upgraded to the advanced Viper class by 2027.
The AP reported that the upgrade program’s total coast stands at a whopping $1.5 billion.
The development followed a revised Athens-Washington defence cooperation agreement being put forward before the Greek parliament for approval on Wednesday.
If ratified, the agreement will expand US Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay base, located on the island of Crete, and essentially allow the US military to use all Greek military facilities.
In particular, the document stipulates that the deployment of US forces to Greece's Larissa Air Base, the Greek Army Air Base at Stefanovikio and the port of Alexandroupoli.
The revised agreement was signed on 5 October during US State Secretary Mike Pompeo's visit to Athens. Apparently referring to the eastern Mediterranean, Pompeo told Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis that “Greece can play an important strategic role here in the region.”
“This is a dynamic region, with lots going on, lots of change taking place, and we are very confident that together, we can work to ensure that Greece can be a pillar for stability in this region”, Pompeo said.
Mitsotakis , for his part, noted that the updated agreement came amid Turkey’s gas drilling in the eastern Mediterranean that “questions the sovereign rights of Greece and Cyprus, violating international law”.
Earlier, Egypt, Cyprus and Greece urged Turkey to abandon the drilling off north Cyprus after Ankara announced that it had sent its second drillship to an area where the Greek Cypriot authorities had already awarded exploration rights to European companies.
Nicosia said in a statement that Turkey continues "to blatantly violate international law" and disregards calls from the EU and the international community to cease its "illegal activities" in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), claims that were rejected by Ankara.