Greece has been a member of NATO since 1952, and has played an important role in defending NATO's southern flank. However, Greece has been involved in a long-term rivalry with its neighbor Turkey over territorial rights in the Agean Sea and in particular over the status of Cyprus. Consequently, arms supplied to Greece and Turkey have often been directed more against each other rather than against Soviet expansion.
It has often been the case that it was felt necessary to supply the same weapons at the same time to both Greece and Turkey in order to prevent any force inbalances from developing between these two rivals. Shortly after Turkey announced its plans to purchase F-16s, in November of 1984, Greece announced that it was going to acquire 34 F-16C and six F-16D fighters for the Hellenic Air Force to replace the F-5A Freedom Fighter. The formal agreement was finally signed in January 1987 after years of protracted haggling over price and the repeated expression of worries on the part of the US about the danger of technology transfer to the Warsaw Pact.
The F-16s for Greece were delivered under the Peace Xenia FMS program. The F-16C/Ds were Block 30 aircraft powered by the General Electric F110-GE-100 turbofan. The first F-16D for the Elliniki Aeroporia (Hellenic Air Force) was handed over at Fort Worth on November 18, 1988, with the first F-16C being handed over later that same month. The initial batch was delivered between November 1988 and October 1989. Crew training initially took place in the United States, with the first aircraft arriving in Greece at the Nea Ankhialos air base in January of 1989.
The 111th Pterix (Wing) at Nea Ankhialos operates two Mira (roughly equivalent to a squadron) equipped with the F-16--the 330 "Keraunos" and the 346 "Jason". Mira 346 acts as the F-16 conversion unit and has all the F-16Ds. The Greek F-16 are fitted with an identification light on the starboard side of the aircraft's nose and they have a braking parachute housed inside an enlarged fairing extending rearwards from the base of the vertical tail.
In April of 1993, General Dynamics received an additional order from Greece for 32 more F-16CG fighters and 8 more F-16DG two-seaters under the Peace Xenia II FMS program. These were to be Block 50, and were scheduled for delivery from early 1997. They were to replace the last remaining Northrop F-5s serving with 341, 343, and 349 Mira. These new F-16s were powered by the General Electric F110-GE-129 increased performance engine. The new Block 50 F-16s were LANTIRN capable--some 24 LANTIRN navigation pods and 16 targeting pods were also ordered. This makes the Greek Block 50s different from the USAF Block 50s, which are not normally LANTIRN-capable. In addition, AMRAAM missiles were acquired.
The first Block 50 F-16C for Greece was formally accepted in May of 1997. They were intended for 347 Mira (which was formerly an A-7H unit) to be based at Larissa and 349 Mira Anakhethisis Imeras, which had been operating R/F-5A/Bs out of Larissa but eventually transferred to Nea Ankhialos.
The Greek military had a requirement for a deep-strike aircraft because of an agreement that Greece had with Cyprus under which the Greek armed forces would protect Cyprus in case of attack. In 1999, Greece announced that it would acquire the Block 50/52+ in preference to the F-15H, a "Hellenized" version of the F-15E Strike Eagle. On March 10, 2000, the Greek government signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance for 34 single seat and 16 two-seat F-16 Block 50/52+ aircraft. An option for ten additional examples (6 Cs and 4 Ds) was firmed up in September 2001. The new F-16s were to have conformal fuel tanks and an upgraded APG-68(V)9 radar. The cockpit will have color flat-panel multifunction displays and will be fully compatible with night vision imaging systems. It will also have full provisions for an APSIS internal electronic countermeasures suite.
Greece had been interested in buying the more powerful General Electric F110-GE-132 or P&W F100-PW-232 Enhanced Fighter Engines, but this request was denied by the US government because the engines were still under development. On June 1, 2000 it was announced that the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 turbofan had been selected as the powerplant. The lower thrust of these engines will give the Greek Block 50+ aircraft a performance some 12 percent lower than the Block 30 F-16s they already have.
The Block 52+ aircraft are AMRAAM-capable. They also have the Northrop Grumman APG-68(V)9 radar with a new extended-range search mode which replaces the existing air-to-air search mode and provides an increase in detection range, an improved data modem, a digital terrain system, a Joint Helment Mounted Cueing System, a horizontal situation display, an APX-113 IFF, a laser ring embedded GPS/INSD system, and the Raytheon Advanced Self Protetection Integrated Suite II. The radar can also perform high-resolution ground mapping, giving the aircraft a full all-weather capability. There is a data modem which allows up to 4 aircraft to passively exchange data about air threats without the need for voice communication.
The conformal fuel tanks provide a total of 366 Imp Gall of additional fuel. The tanks do not affect maneuverability to any significant extent, although they do lower the maximum speed by about 5 percent.
The first Advanced Block 52 F-16s were handed over to the Greek Air Force as part of the Peace Xenia III FMS program in October of 2002. At the customer's request, the two-seat F-16Ds were delivered first in order to support the training effort. Deliveries continued until 2004. They were assigned to 340 Moira and 343 Moira, each equipped with 20 F-16Cs and ten F-16Ds.
The following Hellenic Air Force units operate the F-16
330 Squadron Thunderbolt F-16C/D Block 30 335 Squadron Tiger F-16C/D Block 52+ Advanced 337 Squadron Ghost F-16C/D Block 52+ 340 Squadron Fox F-16C/D Block 52+ 341 Squadron Arrow F-16C/D Block 50 343 Squadron Star F-16C/D Block 52+ 347 Squadron Perseus F-16C/D Block 50
Greek and Turkish F-16s have on occasion seen action against each other. On May 23, 2006 two Greek F-16s intercepted a Turkish RF-4 reconnaissance aircraft and two Turkish F-16 escorts off the coast of the Greek island of Karpathos. A mock dogfight took place between the two sides, which restulted in a midair collision between a Turkish F-16 and a Greek F-16. The Turkish pilot ejected safely, but the Greek pilot was killed.
Greek F-16s were acquired through the Foreign Military Sales program and are assigned USAF serial numbers for administrative purposes. They carry the last three digits of their USAF serial numbers on their tails.
88-0110/0111 General Dynamics F-16C Block 30H Fighting Falcon for Greece as 110/111, Peace Xenia 88-0112/0123 General Dynamics F-16C Block 30J Fighting Falcon For Greece as 112/123, Peace Xenia 88-0124/0139 General Dynamics F-16C Block 30K Fighting Falcon For Greece as 124/139, Peace Xenia 88-0140/0143 General Dynamics F-16C Block 30L Fighting Falcon For Greece as 140/143, Peace Xenia 88-0144/0147 General Dynamics F-16D Block 30H Fighting Falcon For Greece as 144/147, Peace Xenia 88-0148/0149 General Dynamics F-16D Block 30J Fighting Falcon For Greece as 148/149, Peace Xenia 93-1045/1076 Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 50D Fighting Falcon c/n TC-1/TC-32. To Greece as 045/076 93-1077/1084 Lockheed Martin F-16D Block 50D Fighting Falcon c/n TD-1/TD-8. To Greece as 077/084 99-1500/1533 Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 52 Fighting Falcon MSN XK-1/XK-34. For Greek AF under Peace Xenia III as s/n 500 to 533 1516 (337 Mira) crashed into Agean Sea dfuring training flight Dec 5, 2007. Pilot killed. 1522 (340 Mira) collied in midair with F-16D 99-1538 near Hrisi Island. 2 survived, one killed. 99-1534/1549 Lockheed Martin F-16D Block 52 Fighting Falcon MSN XM-1/XM-16. For Greek AF under Peace Xenia III as s/n 600 to 615 1538 (340 Mira) collided in midair with F-16C 99-1522 near Hrisi Island 01-8530/8535 Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 52 Fighting Falcon MSN XK-35/XK-40. For Greek AF as 534/539 01-8536/8539 Lockheed Martin F-16D Block 52 Fighting Falcon MSN XM-17/XM-20. For Greek AF as 616/619 06-0001/0020 Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 52 Fighting Falcon MSN WJ-1/20. To Greek AF as 001/20 0001 first flight was Dec 5, 2008 0003 (WJ-3) handed over to Greek AF at Fort Worth, TX Mar 19, 2009.