Greece government decided to purchase 30 F-16 warplanes from the United States and Leopard tanks from Germany to upgrade its military stocks and additional 10 F-16 fighters to meet the air force's immediate operational needs, Greek Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos disclosed on Tuesday.
The decision was made during a meeting of the Government Foreign Affairs and Defense Council (KYSEA) chaired by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis in the day.
The cost of the warplanes, in current prices, amounts to 1.1 billion euros (1.32 billion US dollars), but the final amount will depend on negotiations with the American side and offset benefits will concern infrastructures and support for the rest of the F-16s belonging to the Greek air force, said the minister,
As regards the new fighter aircraft, whose procurement lies in the year 2009, the minister said the proposal by the defence ministry is for the purchase of 30 new aircraft with an option for the purchase of another 10. The minister clarified that the type of aircraft has not been decided.
KYSEA also endorsed the new structure of forces and the new structure for the armed forces' administration to enable them to become more flexible and effective and to have a greater rapid reaction ability, he added.
However, the decision triggered severe criticism from the opposition parties.
The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) criticized the decision as "part of NATO planning."
"The 30 new F-16 warplanes and the Leopard tanks, which KYSEA decided to purchase and the rest it has scheduled, are part of NATO planning, just as all the previous ones were," said KKE in an announcement.
The Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party expressed its discontent over the decision, saying that it "will place new burdens on the Greek economy."
The party said that the new armaments purchases "are not dictated by the country's real needs, but they are part of NATO's plans and serve the interests of manufacturing companies and the countries of their production."