Defense

Trump touts potential $2.4B Greek fighter jet deal at appearance with PM

The State Department on Tuesday announced it had approved a potential $2.4 billion upgrade of Greek F-16 fighter jets as the country's prime minister met with President Trump.

Trump, who spoke alongside Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the White House Rose Garden after a working lunch, said the potential deal "would generate thousands of American jobs."

The foreign military sale, announced in February, would upgrade Greece's fleet of Lockheed Martin-made F-16 aircraft to an F-16 Block V configuration with the purchase of new radars, radios, navigation systems, transponders and ground support systems, among other equipment.

The upgrade "will bolster the Hellenic Air Force's ability to support NATO and remain interoperable with the U.S. and the NATO alliance. It will also help Greece sustain operations in the future, thereby reducing the threat the alliance's enemies pose to the U.S. and the alliance," the Defense Security Cooperation Agency said in a statement.

The agency added that it had notified Congress of the possible sale on Monday.

Trump also praised Greece "for being one of the few North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) countries currently spending at least 2 percent of [gross domestic product] on defense" and called it "a land of tremendous potential."

NATO spending has been a hot-button issue for Trump, who frequently berates European allies for what he says is not enough contribution.

Trump most notably scolded his fellow NATO allies at a May summit in Brussels, saying member nations "must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations."

Member nations fund their own defense spending under the NATO umbrella, however, instead of paying the alliance.

"I know many people are looking to invest in Greece. We are helping, as you know, with a massive renovation of their air force and also they're airplane, generally, going to Greece. They're looking at buying additional planes from Boeing," Trump added.

Trump was likely referring to the Greece's largest carrier, Aegean Airlines, which is deciding by the end of the year to choose either Airbus or Boeing planes to renew its fleet, Reuters reported.

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