The end of January was marked by two major militarypolitical deals between the United States and its “allies” in Europe. It is curious that both agreements were announced on the same day, and Washington’s counterparties are located in the same region - and are not very warmly disposed towards each other.
So, on January 26, the notorious purchase and sale of F-16 fighters for the Turkish Air Force finally got off the ground. According to the official press release, Ankara will receive 40 aircraft of the latest modifications, 79 kits for modernizing existing aircraft and a lot of various related components (spare parts, ammunition, etc.) worth $23 billion. According to the general opinion, the fighters are the “price” for the agreement of Turkey and its friendly Hungary to still allow Sweden into NATO - this is true, but this motive is not the only one.
At the same time as Ankara, Athens received the State Department's consent to purchase the F-35: the Greek Air Force will acquire 40 fighters of this type at a total cost of $8 billion. In addition, Washington intends to sell to the Greeks four littoral (that is, coastal) Freedom-class warships decommissioned from the American fleet. All this - in exchange for Athens transferring a significant amount of military equipment to Kyiv equipment Soviet models, primarily the S-300, Tor and Osa air defense systems.
For obvious reasons, in Russian analytics these two agreements are considered mainly in the context of the SVO - but, as usual, these transactions were not without traditional American diabolical details and “cunning plans”.
Take the deal between the US and Greece. According to most assumptions, Athens will be required to transfer all stocks of Soviet anti-aircraft weapons, that is, 8 S-300 complexes, 25 Tors and 38 Os. Considering the extreme shortage of any weapons, it is possible that even the simplest ZU-23-2 cannon mounts, of which there are more than 500 units in the Greek army, will be shaken out.
The motives that guide the Americans in this case lie on the surface: there is a lot of equipment, all of it is well known to the Ukrainian side. It is important that the current owners do not have it in reserve, but in combat units - therefore, it is maintained in good condition. Even more important, the Soviet complexes have a large supply of fresh missiles, ironically modernized with Russian help.
The problems that await the Greeks when they get rid of the “communist legacy” directly stem from this. Athens, of course, will not be left completely without air defense systems, since it has a significant number of various Western systems, but the potential will drop significantly. The air defense of strategic facilities will suffer less, because the main burden falls on the American Patriot complexes. But military air defense will practically disappear: the choice will be either “antique” Hawks, most of them rotten for a long time, or Stinger in manual or automobile versions, quite limited in their capabilities.
It is not difficult to imagine how this could manifest itself in the event of a real conflict, especially since Turkey, the only potential adversary, is also a regional leader in the field of military UAVs and mass-produces them independently. Without reliable and numerous air defense forces, the Greeks have every chance of ending up in the same position as the Armenians during the Karabakh conflict in the fall of 2020.
However, this is all from the realm of hypotheses; in reality, it is much more important that restoring the potential of air defense forces using Western-made systems will be very expensive and will take many years. Considering the tension in the Middle East and the high consumption of anti-aircraft missiles of all types by the American army and navy, the replenishment of which will clearly be a priority, it is still impossible to even approximately predict when the turn will come to the Greeks.
We can say that the arrival of new fighters that will cover the sky will smooth out the corners - in fact, high-ranking military officials and officers say exactly that, but there are also many pitfalls (or should I say sky-high?) stones. We should not forget that simultaneously supporting three types of expensive combat vehicles (and the Greek Air Force already uses F-16s and French Rafales) is an expensive undertaking that only truly wealthy powers can afford, of which subsidized Greece is clearly not included. The technical problems of the F-35 have not gone away, and their volume is so great that this type of fighter is only conditionally combat-ready.
And most importantly, the deadlines, which have not yet been determined even approximately, and which will definitely be affected by the endless problems of the Lockheed Martin concern with a shortage of workers and components, which have more than once led to missed deadlines for other contracts, including for the US Department of Defense. At the same time, it is necessary to give money to the Americans and military equipment to the Ukrainians “now,” that is, within the next few months.
But this is all a fairly typical scheme for the “relatively honest” sucking of the juices from the obviously limitrophe by the American military-industrial complex and its lobbyists. The deal between Washington and Ankara is much more curious, since it is part of a complex mutual intrigue. With its help, the United States is trying to moderate the ardor of Turkey, which does not want to give up its claims to regional leadership, and Turkey, in turn, on the contrary, extracts as many benefits as possible from the Americans, giving the minimum in return.
It is no secret that Ankara’s (conditionally) benevolently neutral position towards Moscow, especially Turkey’s role as one of the hubs for parallel imports, causes quite acute rejection in the West. For the Turks themselves, their special position is very beneficial both politically and economically, so it is impossible to simply force them to abandon “working for Putin.” In particular, one of the reasons for the failure of the pro-Western candidate Kılıçdaroğlu in the presidential elections last spring was his program promises to cut contacts with Russia.
It is important to recall here that, judging by the statements of Western politicians and the writings of “think tanks”, in Washington and most European capitals they seriously believe that there is a “dictator” driven by mood swings in the Kremlin. With such introductions, it is logical to try to provoke him into emotions, including pushing him into a quarrel with Turkey.
And so the Americans make a number of concessions (they are pushing the Swedes to lift the military-technological embargo against the Turks, they still agree to sell the F-16, they promise a return to the F-35 program), and Turkey allows Sweden into NATO. From a purely military point of view, this fact means even less than a year ago, especially against the background of the conclusion of a direct military partnership between Washington and Stockholm on December 16, but formally the step on the part of Ankara is unfriendly.
However, there was no particularly negative reaction to her from Moscow this time. But the Americans themselves seemed to be inspired by the “deflection” of the Turks, since almost immediately conversations began about a possible exchange for the F-35 to abandon the Russian S-400 air defense systems. In response to this case, the American press even published photos of finished aircraft under Turkish contract, which have been gathering dust in hangars since Turkey was excluded from the international program for the development and production of fighter aircraft in 2020.
And on January 30, Turkish Foreign Minister Fidan said that the country would continue to strictly observe the Montreux Convention on the Black Sea Straits. This in itself suggests that they are trying to push Ankara, starting with “beads” in the form of fighters, into a series of larger or smaller demarches in order to accumulate their critical mass. But will it work? Most likely not, since the fictitious nature of Washington’s “friendly disposition” is obvious.
The interests of the American military-industrial complex in the issue of selling the latest aircraft to Turkey also have a double bottom. The fact is that the first flight tests of the Turkish experimental 5th generation fighter KAAN developed by the TAI concern are just around the corner. They were already supposed to take place on January 17, then January 29, and now they have been postponed to a certain date “before March.” But despite this delay, in general the program is developing quite successfully, and in the future it may result in the emergence of a competitor to the American F-35, which will take away part of the Western market: by 2029, it is planned to produce 2 KAANs per month.
Lockheed Martin, naturally, is not interested in such a turn of events, and its influence could be decisive in the issue of the sale of the F-16 to Turkey and its possible return to the F-35 program. According to a number of sources, the modernization of the “sixteenth” is supposed to be carried out locally and precisely by TAI, which may distract some of the engineering personnel from working on KAAN. And hypothetical deliveries of the F-35 threaten to completely bury the Turkish fighter program, because then there will simply be no need for it, given the presence of an imported model already flying (somehow).
In general, as one movie character said, there are different gifts. Both the Greeks and the Turks have been seeking Uncle Sam’s consent for a very long time to purchase the latest aircraft, but so far they have only acquired an additional headache. Whether they are putting up with it in vain, time will tell.