Greece gets F-35 stealth jets meant for Turkey - report

The United States approved the sale of fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter jets to Greece, several of which were originally destined for Turkey, Greek City Times reported on Tuesday.

Greece will buy six of 20 warplanes in 2022, along with six French-made Rafale fighter jets, the news website said, citing Greek language newspaper Estia.

Six of the F-35s were originally meant for Turkey, but will now be decorated in the blue and white national colours of Greece, GCT said.

The United States excluded Turkey from a deal to purchase the F-35s last year after the Turkish government took delivery of Russian S-400 air defence missiles. Turkish pilots had received training in the fighter jets in the U.S. ahead of their expected arrival.

Greece’s deal to take delivery of the F-35s comes during a political and military standoff with Turkey over territorial claims in the eastern Mediterranean. Hopes for de-escalation were dimmed earlier this month when the Turkey announced naval exercises in the eastern Mediterranean and sent its research ship, the Oruç Reis, back to contested waters to continue a search for hydrocarbons, a move that had sparked the dispute on Aug. 10.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday that Turkey had tested the S-400s and was continuing to do so. The Pentagon immediately condemned the move. Washington has threatened further economic and political reprisals for Ankara’s purchase of the missiles, which it says could be used by Russia to garner sensitive information on the F-35 and other NATO weapons.