The slick OH-58 Kiowa will soon be buzzing the Aegean skies.

But how can the bankrupt Greek economy afford the purchase, I can hear you asking.  Well, have you ever wondered what happens to old US military equipment?

Once retired, US military hardware is often given to friendly countries.  All an interested government has to do is send a letter of request to the State Department.  Requests can fall under three categories: Foreign Military Sales (FMS), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), or Excess Defense Articles (EDA).

Image courtesy of DVIDS Hub.

The difference between the three is simple.

Let’s say Qatar wants to buy more F-15s.  Since the Qatari Treasury is the opposite of the Greek, Qatar will file an FMS instead of an EDA request.  If approved, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) executes the program.

But not all countries can afford new equipment.  And that’s what FMF is for.  Often, Uncle Sam will offer grants or loans so countries can purchase that F-16 fighter or M1 Abrams tank they crave.

As for the EDA, the US military departments continually identify excess material.  When interested countries, which can’t buy new or don’t receive grants, want something, they use this option.  They only pay for admin stuff such as packaging and transportation.  And that’s how bankrupt Greece added 70 OH-58D Kiowa Armed Reconnaissance Helicopters to her fleet.

Equipment can vary from frigates and jets, on the high-end, to rifles and ammo, on the low.

And all material goes to friendly countries. But although some countries may be America’s friends, this doesn’t mean that are friends with America’s friends.


Take India and Pakistan as an example.  Both are major US defense partners—Pakistan, perhaps, something more.  But they hate one another.  In fact, they’ve fought four wars in the last 70 years.  And since US military equipment or assistance can affect regional balances, the folks at State have to be quite delicate with their signing pens.

Greece and Turkey provide another good example.  Perennial enemies, both countries are NATO members and US partners.  They almost went to war in 1996 over the demarcation of the Aegean, which swims in islands, big and small.  And the addition of the Kiowas, with their anti-tank and landing capabilities, to the Greek fleet, is sure to influence the regional balance.

So, next time you’re boiling inside a Humvee or feeling cool behind an F-16’s cockpit, you might want to wonder who’ll be driving your chariot in the future.


Featured image courtesy of AP