Greece Plans to Sell Block 30 F-16s, Mirage 2000 Fighters: Why It Matters for Ukraine?

A Hellenic Air Force F-16C Block 30 aircraft / All photos: Jim van de Burgt
A Hellenic Air Force F-16C Block 30 aircraft / All photos: Jim van de Burgt

Greece looks poised to offload both its early-model F-16s and its French-made Mirage 2000 fighters, as part of a major overhaul of its armed forces. Among potential buyers of Greek F-16 Block 30 and Mirage 2000EG/DG aircraft could be Ukraine

The changes were outlined by Greek Minister of Defense Nikos Dendias, and were subsequently reported by the Kathimerini daily newspaper, as per by The Drive portal.

"We have a cartload of different types of aircraft. We have F-4s, Mirage 2000-5s, Block 30 F-16s, Block 50 F-16s, Block 52 F-16s, Viper F-16s, and Rafales," Dendias explained.

Read more: French Mirage 2000D Fighter-Bomber Transfer to Ukraine Shrouded in Mystery
A Hellenic Air Force Rafale, Defense Express
A Hellenic Air Force Rafale / Photo credit: Dassault Aviation

"The F-4s need to be retired and, if possible, sold. The Mirage 2000-5 is an exceptionally capable plane and can be sold. The Block 30 F-16s need to be sold. And I think we will be able to sell the [Mirage 2000-5 and Block 30 F-16s]," Dendias added.

A Hellenic Air Force F-4E, Defense Express
A Hellenic Air Force F-4E / Photo credit: Hellenic Air Force

As for the F-35, the Minister of Defense said that Greece wants the more capable Block 4 version, which has yet to take to the air, amid ongoing problems with the software and hardware backbone that will enable those new capabilities.

The Military Balance 2023 indicates that as of the beginning of last year, the Greek Air Force formally counted 34 F-4E Phantom II aircraft in active service.

When it comes to F-16 Block 30 aircraft, the situation is more interesting. Greece received 34 single-seat F-16C Block 30 and six two-seat F-16D Block 30 aircraft between 1988 and 1990. The exact number of aircraft of this modification in the Greek Air Force's inventory is not provided by The Military Balance 2023 handbook.

A Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000-5EG, Defense Express
A Hellenic Air Force Mirage 2000-5EG / Photo credit: Hellenic Air Force

Regarding the Greek Mirage 2000 fleet, the authors of The Drive portal indicate that Greece currently possesses approximately 25 Mirage 2000-5BG/EG aircraft, which can serve as carriers for SCALP-EG cruise missiles, which has notably been supplied to and used by Ukraine. It also has a certain number of Mirage 2000EG/DG standard aircraft, which are "geared" for air defense tasks but can also carry anti-ship Exocet missiles.

As for the plans regarding the more powerful Mirage 2000-5BG/EG, they have not been announced yet.

The Drive authors suggest that among potential buyers of Greek F-16 Block 30 and Mirage 2000EG/DG aircraft could be Ukraine.

"Mirage 2000s, too, have been linked with a potential transfer to Ukraine, with proposals to transfer examples from French stocks. So far, these have come to nothing, with the F-16 emerging as the clear priority for Ukraine. That said, the availability of potentially dozens more surplus Mirage 2000s — including more advanced Mirage 2000-5 versions — could lead to a rethink and see those plans revisited," according to The Drive portal.

Defense Express
A Hellenic Air Force F-16C Block 50 armed with AGM-88 HARMs / Photo credit: Hellenic Air Force

"In the past, Greece has also considered transferring other heavy weapons to Ukraine, most notably a proposal to send much-needed S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile systems. Unusually for a NATO member, Greece has fairly significant stocks of Soviet-era and russian-made air defense systems, and early this year there were reports that Athens could be ready to provide some of these to Ukraine," The Drive portal added.

Earlier Defense Express reported about how the M114A1 howitzers that Greece was going to send to Ukraine could help on battlefield.

Read more: Greece to Supply Ukraine with Aviation Missiles, Artillery, and M114 Howitzers in 2024