Greece will get delivery of the first F-35 stealth multirole aircraft by 2028, “if everything proceeds according to plan,” former Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos told TV station Skai Friday.
Panagiotopoulos, who was minister in the Mitsotakis government of 2029-23, said, that with the acquisition of F-35, the Rafale fighter and the Viper upgrade to the F-16, Greece will change the balance of power in the air with Turkey, which has been blocked from buying the F-35 and whose request to buy new F-16s and upgrade existing ones has stalled in the US Congress.
Nevertheless, he said, channels of communications with Turkey “through messages or direct communication” must remain open.
Even during the periods of greatest tension with Turkey, Panagiotopoulos and his Turkish counterpart, Hulusi Akar, managed to keep such channels open.
Responding to concerns that a caretaker government could not respond swiftly to a crisis, Panagiotopoulos pointed out that the caretaker Defense and Citizen Protection Ministers, both former Chiefs of Army Staff, as well as the Foreign Minister, a retired diplomat, have considerable experience and are leading tested institutions, such as the armed forces and police.