AMB Tsunis’s Remarks at HAI F-16 Viper Delivery Ceremony

Hellenic Aerospace Industries

Tanagra Air Base

September 12, 2022

(as prepared)

 I would like to offer a special thank you to Ministers Staikouras, Giorgiadis, and Minister Panagiotopoulos for having me today.

Thank you also to Deputy Minister Chardalias, General Floros, Lieutenant General Bourolias, Chairman Koutras, Mr. Papakostas, visiting military leadership, and Distinguished Guests.

I want to thank the Defense Ministry’s strong commitment to our bilateral relationship and for the work that we have done together to keep both of our countries secure and to ensure that our alliance remains strong.

It is a true pleasure and honor for me to be here today to celebrate the next achievement in the Hellenic Air Force’s prized, and combat proven, F-16 program.  Greece’s F-16 Vipers will immediately enhance NATO’s interoperability with 4th and 5th-generation fighter aircraft, ensuring our alliance can defend our security interests.

Thank you to Hellenic Aerospace Industry for hosting, but most of all, thank you and Lockheed Martin, for the successful production of these amazing aircraft.

The U.S.-Greece defense cooperation is the strongest it has ever been.  The Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement framework has strengthened and advanced our common defense and strategic interests for more than three decades.

It enshrines our countries’ commitment to address the security challenges of today and tomorrow through that strategic relationship, while deepening and expanding our partnership to maintain strong, capable, and interoperable forces.  Our alliance strengthens NATO and coalition operations, making this region safer and more secure.

I’ve been fortunate to follow the F-16 Foreign Military Sales program as it solidifies itself as a benchmark for cooperation and advancing shared goals.

The F-16 upgrade itself includes 1.5 billion dollars across 8 years, but it is only a part of the 10 billion dollar F-16 program spanning 35 years of procurement and sustainment successes.

That amount and timeframe include countless supporters and generations of Greeks and Americans who have worked together to advance our defense relationship.

Every facet of our defense cooperation shines with achievement, including the strategic business relationship between HAI and Lockheed Martin that will be the model for future endeavors.

Their partnership lays the foundation for U.S. companies to connect with Greece’s technology and energy leaders, multiplying our defense capabilities while building jobs and skills for both countries.

Our accomplished history across the spectrum of initiatives gives me great confidence that we will continue to invest in our fundamental defense and security relationship.

Along with major acquisition programs like the F-16, together we have expanded our spectrum of security assistance, our International Military Education and Training programs, our Excess Defense Articles programs.

These programs amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in transfers that have occurred over the past few of years, on top of the intensified pattern of exercises, and the really strong cooperation and profound respect between the leaders of our armed forces.

I eagerly await the modernization of the remaining F-16V aircraft and their return to the skies as the most advanced F-16 fleet in Europe.