Greece is moving towards a decision on its next fighter purchase, scheduling in-country evaluations of the designs in contention for its requirement for 40 aircraft.

Lockheed Martin's F-16C was evaluated in February and Boeing's F-15E will be assessed in March. The US fighters are being offered in competition with the Dassault Mirage 2000-5 and Sukhoi Su-27. Greece is expected to make a decision this year, allowing deliveries to begin as early as 1999.

Neighbouring Turkey, meanwhile, has expressed interest in acquiring up to 40 F-15Es. No formal request for information has been received, and industry sources are sceptical, as Turkey did not express interest until after the US Department of State granted Boeing a licence to market the F-15 to Greece, Turkey's regional rival, late last year.

Lockheed Martin is offering Greece, which already operates F-16s, the current Block 50 aircraft as well as more advanced versions. The same will be true for Israel, where bids for a new fighter competition are to be submitted by early March. Israel faces the choice of acquiring a second batch of 25 long range F-15Is, or up to 50 F-16Cs to begin replacing some 200 older fighters approaching the end of their service lives. Local reports suggest the possibility of a split purchase.

Another fighter competition is nearing fruition in Chile, where a selection is expected in May. The F-16C/D, Boeing F/A-18C/D, Dassault Mirage 2000-5 and Saab JAS39 are in contention. All four will be at the FIDAE '98 show in Santiago in late March. An initial purchase of 16 fighters is expected, to replace the air force's Cessna A-37 strike aircraft, but follow on orders are anticipated to replace all of Chile's combat fleet.

Source: Flight International