Eyeing Turkey, Greece Will Buy French Rafale, US F-35 Fighter Jets

Αssociated Press

In this photo provided on Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, by the Greek Defense Ministry, worships from Greece, Italy, Cyprus and France, participate in a joint military exercise which was held from 26-28 of August, south of Turkey in eastern Mediterranean sea. (Greek Defense Ministry via AP)

ATHENS – A second battlefront for Greece during the COVID-19 pandemic – Turkish provocations in the seas and air – has seen the New Democracy government move to beef up the country's defense with plans to buy French-made Rafale fighter jets and American F-35's.

Turkey had wanted to buy the US fighter jets but was barred after first acquiring the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system that could be used against Greece – a fellow NATO ally – and compromise the defense alliance. 

The Greek Defense Ministry, said Kathimerini, also plans to buy more unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and drone response systems, possibly within 2021 although Germany is supplying Turkey with weapons, especially stealth submarines that could take away Greece's advantage under the seas.

Maintenance and upgrading of existing systems is progressing rapidly aimed at strengthening Greece's hand as Turkey has an energy research vessel and warships off the island of Kastellorizo, shadowed by the Greek Navy.

That standoff, which has eased somewhat, has raised fears of a conflict, accidental or otherwise, that could turn into a real shooting war between the countries with NATO wanting no part of it after failing to bring deconfliction measures in response.