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Politics

Defense Chief Says Greece’s Military, Systems Need Radical Reforms

ATHENS – Even as Greece was building up its arsenal before Turkey ratcheted down provocations, Defense Minister Nikos Dendias said the build-up has to be matched by coordinating weapons systems and the Air Force.

He told Antenna TV that, “We need to make some very radical changes, in the weapons systems, in the structure, in innovation – that is, in the ability to create new systems using our own capabilities – in the military service, in our own significant and motivated personnel.”

He added that, “Everything needs to change in order to maintain exactly the same goal: the ability to protect our sovereignty and independence,” although Turkey and Greece are in a detente that’s holding for now.

He said the Air Force has too big a mix of different types of aircraft even as the government bought French Rafale fighter jets to complement its stable of American F-16’s and has F-4s as well.

“We have F-4s, Mirage 2000-5s, Block 30 F-16s, Block 50 F-16s, Block 52 F-16s, Viper F-16s and Rafales. We cannot carry on this way. The F-4s need to be retired and, if possible, sold. The Mirage 2000-5 is an exceptionally capable plane and can be sold. The Block 30 F-16s need to be sold. And I think we will be able to sell the (Mirage 2000-5 and Block 30 F-16s,” he said.

“We need to get the F-16s to Viper level, we need to strengthen our fleet of Rafales – we have 24 but it would be good to reach 30 – and, of course, to acquire the Block 4 F-35, which has not become airborne yet but will have cured all the childhood illness of the fourth-generation aircraft,” he said.

He acknowledged there have been delays in the program for upgrading Greece’s F-16s to Viper level, but said he believes the country will have an “adequate fleet” of the aircraft by 2027, “at the latest.”

Overhauling the Army is another priority, he said, although adding that, “It’s going to take work; quite a lot of work,” Dendias said. He didn’t outline what kind of reforms would be coming there.

He used Independence Day to mark the contributions of the military and veterans as well as those who gave their lives in defense of the country over the years in conflicts against enemies.

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