Could Greek F-35 buy cause a flare up in US-Turkish relations?

In Greece, the F-35 isn’t just seen as necessary for the country’s defense, it’s also a matter of “national pride,” said Jim Townsend, a former US deputy assistant secretary of defense for European and NATO policy.

WASHINGTON: The tables have turned for regional rivals Greece and Turkey in the realm of fighter jet acquisition plans, with Greece headed for a buy of the Lockheed Martin F-35 just three years after Turkey was kicked out of the Joint Strike Fighter program.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told reporters on June 30 that the country had submitted a letter of request “in recent days” to the US government for a squadron of 20 F-35s, with options to buy an additional squadron, the Associated Press reported. 

The Greek announcement came just a day after President Joe Biden said that the United States “should sell” F-16s to Turkey — a statement that was heralded as a breakthrough after Turkey’s purchase of the Russian S-400 air defense system in 2019 stymied US arms sales to Turkey and got it booted from the F-35 program.

Three experts who spoke to Breaking Defense say Greece’s purchase of the F-35 is very likely to be approved, but it could further drive a wedge between the already strained relationship of the United States and Turkey.

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