Greece deal with Lockheed begins major Hellenic Air Force upgrade

Greece says it has signed an agreement with U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin that will allow a major upgrade of its F-16 fighter jet fleet over the next seven years.

The defense ministry procurement agency announced Friday that the deal was signed Tuesday finalizing details of Lockheed’s use of a Greek subcontractor.

The defense minister, Nikos Panagiotopoulos, told parliament earlier this month that 84 F-16 jets would be upgraded by 2027 to the advanced-tech Viper class in a program estimated at $1.5 billion.

He said the speed of the upgrade would be determined by how many aircraft are required to remain in active service.

The U.S. State Department approved the potential deal in 2017, saying it advanced U.S. objectives “by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally which is an important partner for political stability and economic progress in Europe.”