Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

GREECE HAS included the McDonnell Douglas (MDC) F-15 and Sukhoi Su-27 in a four-aircraft shortlist for its next fighter purchase. The Dassault Mirage 2000 and Lockheed Martin F-16 (aircraft which Greece already operates) complete the shortlist.

Greece is the first NATO country to consider seriously buying a Russian fighter -Germany's MiG-29s were acquired by East Germany and transferred to the Luftwaffe after re-unification. The Mediterranean nation is also the first European country to shortlist the F-15 in a fighter competition.

MDC confirms that the F-15 has been shortlisted, but says that it does not yet have an export licence to sell the aircraft to Greece. It is not clear which version of the F-15 Greece is interested in; only the two-seat F-15E strike variant is in production, but MDC previously studied a single-seat version of this aircraft for the US Air Force.

The move to include the F-15 and Su-27 is likely to cause concern in Turkey. The neighbours have a turbulent relationship, partly because of the disputed ownership of islands in the eastern Mediterranean and because of the divided island of Cyprus, where a diplomatic storm blew up in 1996 over the Greek-Cypriots' intention to import Russian long-range surface-to-air missile systems.

Greece requires between 40 and 60 aircraft. Dassault is offering the Mirage 2000-5, while Lockheed Martin is offering the Block 50 F-16C/D. Deliveries of a new batch of Block 50 F-16s to Greece have just begun.

Source: Flight International