April 29, 1999 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Prime Minister Costas Simitis said on Friday Greece will buy more than50 F16Block-50 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin for about $2 billion. They will also purchase another 15 Mirage 2000-5 from Dassault.
The Defense Ministry sources said each Mirage would cost about $55 million. Simitis, speaking to reporters after a meeting of a government council on defense and foreign policy, said Greece
would also participate in a joint venture with Germany, Britain, Italy
and Spain to build 60 to 90Eurofighter jets, starting in 2005.
Boeing's F-15H was also a top candidate in Greece's $4 billion defense spending program for the air force, but Simitis said the council chose the F-16 for the sake of uniformity, as it already has 40 older type F-16s in its fleet. Defense ministry officials said the pilots had given the F-15H the best reviews but its high price -- around $70 million each -- and the extghly of the F-16 aircraft and of the strong relationship between the United States and Israel
. Dr. Vance Coffman, Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin Corporation, emphasized the benefits Lockheed Martin can bring to Israel's industry through business cooperation partnerships. Israel Aircraft Industries and many other Israel-based companies have been major suppliers to the F-16 during the past two decades. Moshe Keret, President and Chief Executive Officer of Israel Aircraft Industries, was among officials in the group traveling with the Minister of Defense.
Lockheed Martin is offering Israel a tailored version of the F-16 that includes special equipment designed to meet Israel's specific needs. In all areas of mission requirements, this "Block50 " version of the F-16provides capabilities equal to or better than those of any other fighters currently available for international purchase, at significantly less cost than other alternatives.