Turkey will use Russian S-400 air defence missiles to minimise any Greek air superiority in the region should Greece purchase and deploy fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter jets, retired Turkish major general Nejat Eslen said, according to Sputnik.
“If Greece continues to push ahead with the acquisition of the F-35s, Turkey will be able to minimise the efficiency of Athens’ use of these fighters by using the S-400,” Eslen said in an interview with Sputnik on Tuesday.
The United States approved the sale of F-35 fighter jets to Greece on Oct. 27, six of which were originally meant for Turkey, according to the Greek City Times.
Greece will buy six of 20 of the warplanes in 2022, along with six French-made Rafale fighter jets.
“When Ankara deploys the S-400 in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean, it will allow Turkey to establish regional superiority over both Greece and other countries in the region that conduct provocative policies,” Eslen said.
The United States excluded Turkey from a deal to purchase the F-35s last year after the Turkish government took delivery of the S-400s.
“The whole world knows that these (F-35) fighters are not ‘invisible’ for the detection systems of the Russian-made air defences. This is exactly what the United States is concerned about,” Eslen said.
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 in August when Turkey announced naval exercises and sent its research ship, the Oruç Reis, back to contested waters to continue a search for hydrocarbons.