Blinken visit highlights defense ties
Apart from the confirmation of the strategic relationship that the US has now built with Greece, the visit to Athens of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken served to signify the close ties in the field of defense and security.
Blinken himself referenced the $123 million in investments undertaken under the new multi-year status of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) at the facilities at Souda and Larissa.
At the same time, it was made clear in the joint declaration of the 4th Strategic Dialogue that the procurement of the fifth-generation F-35 will proceed, within the timeframe discussed at the level of the Defense Ministry with the manufacturer Lockheed Martin.
The unfolding Greek-American relationship in the defense sector has essentially three main pillars.
The first of these pillars is the bases where the Americans already have a presence – Souda, Alexandroupoli and Larissa. It is obvious that the Souda naval facility between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean has special significance for the US Navy. The improvements undertaken there are not confined to the facilities at Marathi, but have also extended to the Souda Air Base. What’s more, the Hellenic Armed Forces have benefited in recent years from surplus construction material that is being utilized to expand the naval base.
The second pillar is that of cooperation, with the Hellenic and US Armed Forces conducting exercises throughout Greece, even in areas that generally irritate the Turks. Of course, the aim here is to exploit the terrain of Greece, a NATO ally in a time of crisis with Russia, rather than to send messages to Ankara.
The third pillar is the possibility of cooperation in the industrial sector. The upgrade program for 83 F-16s to Viper configuration is already proceeding, while the US is poised to respond positively to the request of 20 F-35s with an option for another 20. Moreover, the agreement on the procurement of MH-60R helicopters is moving along.