Monday, December 28, 2009

Turkey Threatens to Intercept Greek C-130


En Kripto (among others) reports that a Hellenic Air Force C-130 transport aircraft carrying out a scheduled supply flight in the Aegean received two warnings from a Turkish air defence site, claiming that the Greek aircraft was violating Turkish airspace. The C-130 took off from Rhodes at 12:35 today. It received two warnings at 12:38 which were ignored as the aircraft was clearly flying within Greek airspace. DefenceNet also reports that the aircraft received a threat that a tactical operation would be mounted against it if it did not comply.

At 12:40 the Turkish side used the hotline between the two Air Force command centres to notify the Greek side that the Greek aircraft ignored the Turkish warnings. The Greek side notified the Turkish side that the hotline is meant to be used or emergency situations only and also rejected the Turkish claim citing International Law and existing borders.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas



Hellenic Defence News wishes you all a Merry Christmas and a healthy, safe and prosperous 2010.

On a side note, Greek NET TV just reported that even today, Christmas day, the Turkish Air Force performed violations of Greek airspace. The last time this happened during Christmas was in 1997, the year after the Imia Crisis. The report has been confirmed by MEGA TV which added that the event happened at 10:30 today in the Limnos region.

Today’s violations come on top of yesterday’s violations by 16 aircraft, of which 8 were armed (source DefenceNet).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tiger Meer at Araxos?


Fox2 Magazine reports that the 2013 NATO Tiger Meet will possibly take place at Araxos Air Force Base in Greece. The news has apparently been reported in the Italian defence magzine Aeronautica & Defensa.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last F-16 Block52+ Advanced Delivered by LM



Strategy-Geopolitics reports that Lockheed Martin has completed deliveries of the 30 F-16 Block52+ Advanced aircraft to the US Air Force in the framework of the Peace Xenia IV programme. The announcement was made yesterday by Dennys Plessas, VP of Lockheed Martin's Business Development Initiatives Europe and Middle East Division. The last 4 aircraft will arrive in Greece in January 2010.

These new fighters have similar characteristics to the Greek Air Force's F-16 Block52+ fighters of the Peace Xenia III programme, such as the APG-68(V)9 radar with an increase in detection range of 33% but also further improvements such as the Link-16, fully integrated helmet mounted display system in combination with IRIS-T air-to-air missiles, ASPIS II self defence suite, the ability to carry the DB-110 recon pod as well as the ability to carry a range of advanced precision guided munitions (JDAM, JSOW and Enhanced Paveway bombs).

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Helios-2B Satellite Launched Successfully



DefenceNet reports on the launch of the Helios-2B Satellite on the 18th of December at 18:26 by an Ariane-5 rocket. This satellite will be used by Greece, France, Spain, Belgium and Italy to receive high resolution images from space. The Greek participation allows for the unlimited reception of images on a time-sharing basis with the other users. Each user has the ability to securely use the system to receive images of any area without restriction. The information is sent to national centres for the processing and exploitation of the received images. The Greek centre is based at the Tanagra Air Force base. This is the base where the Greek Mirage 2000-5 are stationed which can carry the SCALP-EG missile.

The images produced by the Helios-2B satellite are instrumental for the creation of digital maps on which terrain models are based which are used for mid-course guidance by the SCALP-EG missiles in the Hellenic Air Force inventory.

The SCALP-EG navigation computer compares terrain relief data received by its sensors and compares these to data of digital maps stored in its memory which were created by the Helios-2B imagery. This data give the missile its mod-course guidance allowing it to make any necessary adjustments to its flight path before the final attack phase begins.

Without the use of the Helios-2B images the use of the SCALP-EG missiles would be problematic and this is one of the reasons for the Greek participation.

This news is very interesting when seen in conjunction with an article by Strategy-Geopolitics about the fact that the Greek Ministry of Defence in response to parliamentary questions stated that the capabilities of the Gokturk programme have been overestimated. Gokturk is a Turkish spy satellite programme which is being monitored closely by the Greek Ministry of Defence. The capabilities of the Gokturk system is regarded as far inferior to those of the Helios-2 and Musis programmes, in which Greece participates.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Abu Dhabi Mar Possibly to Acquire Shipyards


Infognomon Politics reports that yesterday afternoon the Greek Minister of Defence and Finance Minister Katselis received a letter from Thyssen Krupp informing them of the offers that have been received by the German firm for the purchase of the Skaramanga Shipyards. From all offers the only one considered feasible is the offer made by Abu Dhabi Mar. Thyssen Krupp also stated that if the agreement proceeds it is looking at keeping a 25% stake in the shipyards. At the same time it suggests to the Greek side that all matters related to the shipyard are renegotiated by the 20th of January 2010, including the issue of new orders of ships for the Hellenic Navy.

The proposal by Thyssen Krupp is being evaluated by the firm Lazard which is acting as a consultant. There will also be a meeting about the issue between the two Greek Ministries on Monday.

Hellenic Air Force Tactical Transport Fleet


Strategy-Geopolitics reports on 2 parallel developments regarding the tactical transport capability of the Hellenic Air Force. The first is the fact that 8 C-27J Spartan aircraft are already delivered and in service with 354 Squadron. A further 4 are going through flight tests in Italy. These last four aircraft have the ability to be refuelled in the air through an In Flight Refuelling Receiver System (IFRRS). At the same time the Avionics Upgrade Programme of the existing 15 C-130B/H aircraft are ongoing at the Hellenic Aerospace Industry which is being combined with deport level maintenance. These aircraft are also getting a new grey coloured camouflage scheme (see here).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

First Batch of US F-16s Upgraded by HAI Delivered


Strategy-Geopolitics reports that the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) has completed delivery of the first batch of upgraded fighters out of 54 US F-16 Block 40 aircraft which are based in Europe (with the USAFE). The upgrade consists of structural and electronic upgrades according to the Common Configuration Implementation Programme (CCIP). Another 40 aircraft are expected to undergo this upgrade at HAI’s installations over the next 4 years.

HAI received this contract through an open competition in which it met all the necessary criteria. The programme had an initial budget of USD 43 million and has created about 150 jobs. The experience gained by HAI with this contract can be very useful in the even the Hellenic Air Force decides to proceed with the upgrading of its fighter fleet.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Germany Pushing on Eurofighter Selection



Fox2 Magazine reports that amidst an economic crisis and despite the state of the Greek economy it seems that the Eurofighter consortium has been actively pushing for the selection of its fighter by the Hellenic Air Force. The promotion has been taken on by the German side which reportedly is exerting pressure for the Eurofighter Typhoon to be selected without a competition taking place. The difference between the current drive and earlier attempts to sell the fighter to Greece is the aggressiveness of the consortium representatives. Furthermore, these representatives make use of every opportunity to stress that the Eurofighter is capable of detecting and tracking the US made F-35. This claim is clearly aimed at the potential Greek selection.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Turkey Seeks for Greece to Abandon its Firing Ranges


Following our last post here is a translation of an article from Strategy-Geopolitics regarding the recent Turkish activity in the Aegean.

The Turkish Government’s provocations in the Aegean have taken on a new form by sending Turkish fighter aircraft into areas reserved for exercises by the Greek Armed Forces while these are in progress. The aim is to bring into question Greece’s right to reserve such areas in the Aegean.

- On the 11th of November 4 armed Turkish fighters tried to hinder the Greek Search And Rescue exercise Ionas 09 in the central Aegean between Chios and Samos, an area which was reserved for this purpose (see here).
- On the 8th of December 6 Turkish fighters breached the reserved area between Ikaria, Mykonos and Fournoi where a joint Greek-French exercise was taking place (see here).
- Yesterday, 14 December, two Turkish F-4s violated the airspace of the Andros firing range, where LST of the Hellenic Navy were conducting live fire exercises.
- Today a formation of 16 aircraft entered the Athens FIR between Limnos and Lesvos and moved to the area which was reserved by Greece for the TRIAINA exercise. This exercise was later cancelled due to bad weather.

These actions are a clear differentiation as to their provocative nature and greatly increase the danger of an accident happening.

Hellenic Defence News note: The last event is suspicious as it is very unusual for the Greek Armed Forces to cancel exercises due to bad weather. If fighter aircraft could approach the area the weather would logically be good enough for the exercise to continue. It is possible this was another example of Greece backing down from its legitimate rights.

Greece and Turkey on Collision Course over the Aegean



DefenceNet reports that Turkey is resorting to a highly dangerous game of chicken with regards to the Aegean, in a geographic area which has proven oil deposits in the northern sector. This area will be the scene of brinkmanship between Greece and Turkey as Turkey has made a move which shows the intention to provoke a conflict.

All provocations this year to date (over flights, airspace violations, entering restricted training areas etc.) are incidents based on long term planning and are not isolated incidents.

Now, for the first time ever, Turkey is resorting to an action which in any other place on the planet would result in a conflict. Turkey has decided to conduct a three month long exercise in an area which for the greatest part coincides with an area already reserved by Greece which will hold its own air and naval exercises.

Once more Turkey issued a NOTAM which is completely invalid as it refers to a an area over which it has no jurisdiction, it involves the Athens FIR and it comes immediately after the Greek notice with regards to the Greek exercise.

Imagine aircraft and naval vessels of both countries exercising in the same area for the period of two months and with the use of live weapons. The danger of an accident happening is more than a mere possibility.

This is the reason the situation is referred to as a game of chicken as possibly one of the two sides will have to back down to avoid the worst.

Below are the NOTAMs in question:

Turkish NOTAM:

A3913/09 (Issued for LTBB LGGG PART 1 OF 2) - NAVIGATIONAL WARNING TO ALL CONCERNED
1-TURKEY REQUESTED THE GREEK AIS TO PROMULGATE APPROPRIATE NOTAM FOR THE EXERCISE AREA LOCATED WITHIN INTERNATIONAL WATERS AND AIRSPACE OF AEGEAN SEA FOR THE TURKISH FIRING EXERCISE TO BE CONDUCTED FROM 04 JAN 10 TILL 31 MAR 10 0500-1600 UTC. EXCEPT SATURDAYS, SUNDAYS AND 06,29 JAN,12,15 FEB AND 25 MAR 10) WITH REF 071227 LTAAYEYX.
GREEK AIS DID NOT PROMULGATE APPROPRIATE NOTAM FOR THE EXERCISES AREA IN ACCORDANCE WITH OUR REF. UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES DUE TO THE INSISTENT ATTITUDE OF GREECE, TURKEY IS LEFT WITH NO OTHER ALTERNATIVE BUT TO TAKE ITS OWN INITATIVE TO PROMULGATE THE NECESSARY NOTAM FOR THE EXERCISE AREA.

TURKEY WILL TAKE ALL NECESSARY MEASURES FOR THE SAFETY OF THE GENERAL AIR TRAFFIC AS SHE DID IN THE PAST AND IS ALWAYS READY FOR COOPERATION AND COORDINATION IN THIS RESPECT.

2- THE NOTAM INFORMATION FOR THE EXERCISE AREA IS AS FOLLOWS.
EXERCISE AREA :ATHINAI FIR ( FIRING)

1. LATERAL LIMITS :401630N-253900E, 401800N-253000E, 403500N-245800E, 401100N-243300E, 400900N-244500E, 402000N-245600E,400700N-253300E.

END PART 1 OF 2. 04 JAN 05:00 2010 UNTIL 31 MAR 16:00 2010. CREATED: 14 DEC 15:45 2009



A3913/09 (Issued for LTBB LGGG PART 2 OF 2) - 2. VERTICAL LIMITS : 0-10000 FT MSL (INCL)
3. DATE AND TIMES : FROM 04 JAN 10 TILL 31 MAR 10 0500-1600 UTC.(EXCEPT SATURDAYS, SUNDAYS AND 06,29 JAN 12,15 FEB AND 25 MAR 10)
3. PROCEDURES FOR EXERCISE AIRCRAFT :
A. THE FLIGHTS WILL BE CONDUCTED AT VFR CONDITIONS AND UNDER POSITIVE RADAR CONTROL.
B. EXERCISE AIRCRAFT SHALL DISPLAY ANTI COLLISION AND NAVIGATION LIGHTS CONTINUOUSLY.

4. PROCEDURES FOR NON-EXERCISE AIRCRAFT:

IN THE INTEREST OF FLYING SAFETY DURING THE EXERCISE, NON-EXERCISE AIRCRAFT ARE STRONGLY ADVISED NOT TO FLY WITHIN THE EXERCISE AREA DESCRIBED ABOVE. FL000 - FL100 END PART 2 OF 2, 04 JAN 05:00 2010 UNTIL 31 MAR 16:00 2010. CREATED: 14 DEC 15:45 2009



Greek NOTAM:



A2404/09 (Issued for LGGG PART 1 OF 3) - HELLENIC NAVY AND AIRFORCE WILL MAKE A JOINT FIRING AND WITHOUT FIRING EXER WITHIN ATHINAI FIR AS DESCRIBED BELOW:

1.- EXERCISE AREA GA (WITHOUT FIRING) : 402400N0255200E 403500N0251000E 405000N0251000E 404400N0260200E THEN ALONG ATHINAI/ISTANBUL FIR BDRY TO 402400N0255200E.

AWYS G33 (LMO-ALX), G12 AND M603 (SUTIS-ALX), N131 (RODOP-BELGI), ALEXANDROUPOLIS TMA AFFECTED.

VERTICAL LIMITS: 0-10000FT AMSL.

DATES AND TIMES: JAN 11 0600-1000, FEB 01 16 0600-1000.

2.- EXERCISE AREA GB (WITHOUT FIRING): 392400N0260000E 390000N0251800E 394000N0250800E 395000N0253800E THEN ALONG ATHINAI/ISTANBUL FIR BDRY TO 392400N0260000E.

AWYS G33 (LMO-LUPIS), H59 (LMO-ERESO), LIMNOS TMA AFFECTED. VERTICAL LIMITS: 0-10000FT AMSL. DATES AND TIMES: JAN 15 1030-1230, 27 0600-1000, FEB 03 19 24 0600-1000.

3.-EXERCISE AREA GC (FIRING AND WITHOUT FIRING):360000N0292000E 351000N0290600E 353000N0281000E 361000N0284000E. AWYS R19 AND M601(LAKAD-EXELA) L609 AND G18(NILAS-ALKIS) L995(IRBAX-AMONO) L52(TIRMO-VAXOS) W54(ANTAR-ORVIS) AFFECTED. VERTICAL LIMITS: 0-10000FT AMSL. FIRING: JAN 12 0600-1000. WITHOUT FIRING: JAN 08 18 22 0600-1000, FEB 08 11 22 23 0600-1000.

4.- EXERCISE AREA GD (WITHOUT FIRING):385000N0250000E  383000N0250000E383000N0254500E 385500N0254500E. AWYS N604 AND G8(OLIDA-LSV) N130(ESOPO-PIVOS) CHIOS TMA AFFECTED. VERTICAL LIMITS: 0-10000FT AMSL. DATES AND TIMES: JAN 07 13 0600-1000, 19 1030-1230, FEB 04 0600-1000,18 1030-1230.
5.- EXERCISE AREA GE (FIRING AND WITHOUT FIRING): 381000N0261400E. DATES AND TIMES AS ITEM E, 04 JAN 06:00 2010 UNTIL 26 FEB 10:00 2010. CREATED: 11 DEC 11:00 2009



A2404/09 (Issued for LGGG PART 2 OF 3) -
380000N0254500E 374500N0260000E 375000N0270500E THEN ALONG ATHINAI/ISTANBUL FIR BOUNDARY TO 381000N0261400E. AWYS H59 (MES-SAM), R32 (ERIMA-REDRA), R20 (KEA-SITRU), SAMOS TMA AFFECTED. VERTICAL LIMITS: 0-10000FT AMSL. FIRING: FEB 02 0600-1000. WITHOUT FIRING: JAN 05 14 21 26 0600-1000, FEB 17 25 0600-1000.
6.- EXERCISE AREA GF (WITHOUT FIRING) :353000N0274000E  350000N0271500E344000N0280000E 352000N0282000E. AWYS N132 (LAPSO-KUMBI), N133 AND N137 (KRC-GUDIS), N134 (MASES-DOPUS), N139 (KRC-KUMBI), L53 (LATMO-MASES), M978 AND R78 (LAPSO-PERIM), W54 (ANTAR-ORVIS) AFFECTED. VERTICAL LIMITS: 0-10000FT AMSL.

DATES AND TIMES: JAN 20 28 0600-1000, FEB 09 0600-1000.
7.- EXERCISE AREA GH (WITHOUT FIRING): 340000N0260000E 343000N0260000E 343000N0270000E 340000N0270000E. AWYS L607 AND A10 (SIT-PAXIS), L613 (AMAXI-TANSA), L617 AND B12 (SIT-TANSA) AFFECTED. VERTICAL LIMITS: 0-10000FT AMSL. DATES AND TIMES: JAN 25 0600-1000, FEB 10 0600-1000.
8.- EXERCISE AREA GI (WITHOUT FIRING): 344000N0280500E 344000N0292000E 341000N0292000E 341000N0280500E. AWYS N132 (LAPSO-KUMBI), N133 AND N137 (GUDIS-ANTAR), W54 (ANTAR-ORVIS), L53 (ABILO-PERIM), A14 AND M872 (GUDIS-KAVOS) AFFECTED. VERTICAL LIMITS: 0-10000FT AMSL. DATES AND TIMES: JAN 04 0600-1000, FEB 05 11 0600-1000.
9.- EXERCISE AREA GK (WITHOUT FIRING): 403030N0255230E 403500N0245800E 401000N0242500E 394900N0242800E 401020N0253230E THEN ALONG ATHINAI/ ISTANBUL FIR BDRY TO 403030N0255230E. AWYS H59 (AMALA-LMO), G33 (LMO-ALX), LIMNOS TMA AFFECTED. DATES AND TIMES AS
ITEM E, 04 JAN 06:00 2010 UNTIL 26 FEB 10:00 2010. CREATED: 11 DEC 11:00 2009



A2404/09 (Issued for LGGG PART 3 OF 3) -
DATES AND TIMES: JAN 29 0600-1000, FEB 12 0600-1000.
10.- EXERCISE AREA GP (WITHOUT FIRING) : 372400N0260000E 373100N0262100E 371500N0261900E 370900N0260000E. VERTICAL LIMITS: 0-08000FT AMSL. DATES AND TIMES: JAN 11 0600-1000, FEB 26 0600-1000.
11.- PROCEDURES FOR EXERCISE AIRCRAFT:
11.1.-EXERCISE AIRCRAFT WILL FLY VFR/VMC IN ACCORDANCE WITH ICAO RULES AND PROCEDURES AS AMPLIFIED IN AIP-GREECE.

11.2.-EXERCISE AIRCRAFT WILL SUBMIT FLIGHT PLANS AND WILL NOT ENTER CONTROLLED AIRSPACE UNLESS PRIOR PERMISSION HAS BEEN OBTAINED BY APPROPRIATE ATS UNITS.

12.-PROCEDURES FOR NON EXERCISE AIRCRAFT:

12.1.-IN THE INTEREST OF SAFETY DURING THE EXERCISE NON EXERCISE AIRCRAFT ARE STRONGLY ADVISED NOT TO FLY WITHIN THE AREAS DESIGNATED IN PARAS (1) TO (10) ABOVE. 00000FT AMSL - FL100, DATES AND TIMES AS ITEM E, 04 JAN 06:00 2010 UNTIL 26 FEB 10:00 2010. CREATED: 11 DEC 11:00 2009



The above NOTAMs show that unless something changes Greek and Turkish forces will be facing each other with live weapons for a period of two months.



The question is what are the short term goals of Turkey? On a longer term basis it is known that Turkey rejects Greek NOTAMs when it comes to area Turkey considers to be “demilitarised”, as is the case of Samothraki and Psara.



In a similar exercise a month earlier Turkey issued a NOTAM regarding “illegal” Greek exercises on “demilitarised” islands.



In this case Turkey is going a step further and is reserving the same areas as the Hellenic Armed Forces. The same happened in 1974, when Greece issued a NOTAM closing the eastern Aegean for civilian air traffic due to dangers to air traffic.



Analysts with whom DefenceNet has consulted have noted that this latest Turkish move is likely connected with the soon to start oil exploration by Aegean Energy in the northern sector of the same area in which Turkey will hold exercises.

Monday, December 14, 2009

New Turkish Provocation in the Aegean


DefenceNet reports that 4 F-16s and 4 F-4Es of the Turkish Air Force entered the restricted area of the Andros firing range at a time Hellenic Navy ships were exercising in the area.

Specifically the Turkish aircraft entered the Athens FIR between Limnos and Lesbos at 10:34. At 10:48 two F-16s broke off from the main formation and entered the area of the firing range where HN ships were conducting exercises.

The formation exited the Athens FIR roughly 25 minutes later at 10:57 after the hotline between the National Air Operation Centre in Larissa and the Turkish one in Eskisehir was used.

This move by Turkey is of an entirely different nature than the already highly provocative action last week where Turkish aircraft again entered in a reserved area where Greek aircraft from 225 Squadron were exercising with French fighters from the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier. At that time Turkey had issued a NOTAM with which it did not recognise the Ikaria area as one were military exercises can be held as Turkey considers that area demilitarised.

Today’s action by Turkey comes at a time when Turkish Naval units are deployed in the Aegean as part of an evaluation exercise.

One point which raises serious questions in this matter is that (according to DefenceNet) the Turkish fighters were not intercepted by Greek fighters on this occasion.

Hellenic Defence News note: When will NATO stop making a mockery of itself? It is allowing a member state to question the sovereignty of another member state. It is allowing NATO assets to be used in aggressive actions against a member state. All this has been witnessed by numerous NATO allies on various occasions? Consecutive Greek governments have for decades been complete embarrassments to the notion of Greek sovereignty. Unfortunately for NATO, it is just as bad.

Sniper Targeting Pods for Turkish Air Force


Fox2 Magazine reports that Lockheed Martin announced it received a contract worth 118 million USD for the construction of Sniper targeting pods and LANTIRN navigation pods for the Turkish Air Force. The original request by Turkey was for 30 complete systems of one targeting pod and one navigation pod each.

The Turkish Air Force currently uses 40 complete LANTIRN systems for its F-16 fleet in the precision strike role. With this recent order the precision strike capabilities of the Turkish Air Force are enhanced even further. At the same time Turkey is developing a domestic targeting pod, the ASELPOD, with which it plans to equip fighters in the strike role.

New Colour Scheme for HAF C-130


Our friends at Strategy-Geopolitics just alerted us of the picture above of a Hellenic Air Force C-130 Hercules transport aircraft with a new colour scheme. The new colour is the same as that of the recently delivered C-27J Spartan aircraft. Until now the Greek C-130s carried the three tone South East Asia camouflage.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hellenic Air Force JSOW-C


Head over to DefenceNet for some exclusive pictures of the newly delivered JSOW-Cs on HAF F-16s. These weapons have a range of up to 130km and can strike targets from a safe distance outside the enemy SAM umbrella.

The first JSOWs for the Hellenic Air Force arrived at Piraeus Port on the 30th of October. The total number ordered is 40 and training is currently underway at 335 Squadron to integrate this weapon.

The squadron has also taken delivery of a substantial number of JDAM weapons out of the 100 units ordered.

HAF Main Fighters Still Without Self Protection Suite


In a small article today Strategy-Geopolitics reminds us that the some of the most important fighters in the Hellenic Air Force inventory are still flying without self protection suites. The fighters in question are the 58 F-16 Block52+ for which the ASPIS II system was selected ten years ago. The Minister of Defence said in parliament that there are ongoing negotiations between the Greek side and the supplier (Raytheon).

During acceptance tests conducted in 2008 the Air Force found out that one of the criteria for the system was not met, which was the system’s ability to detect continuous wave radar illumination. Continuous wave illumination is used for the guidance of semi-active missiles. Systems in the Turkish inventory that use this method of guidance are the 8 MIM-23 Hawk PIP III surface to air batteries, the F-4E Phantoms and 16 Turkish Navy frigates.

The Advanced Self-Protection Integrated Suite (ASPIS) consists of the ALR-93 radar warning receiver, the ALQ-187 jammer and the ALE-47 countermeasures dispenser.

Hellenic Defence News note: According to information publically available the latest batch of F-16 Block52+ Advanced which is currently being delivered already has the ASPIS II system installed, despite the fact that the Hellenic Air Force has not yet officially accepted the system.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Possible Sale of Chinook Helicopters to Turkish Army



Strategy-Geopolitics reports that the Defense Security Cooperation Agency of the US Department of Defense notified Congress of the possible sale of 14 CH-47F Chinook medium lift helicopters to Turkey. The notification includes a list of related items such as 32 T55-GA-714A engines, 28 AN/ARC-201E SINGARS radios, 14 AN/APR39A(V)1 radar warning receivers, training, support and documentation for an estimated cost of 1.2 billion USD.

The Turkish Executive Committee for Defence Industries is expected to convene on the 6th of January 2010 to decide on a winner of this particular tender. The Boeing CH-47F Chinook is considered to be the frontrunner in this selection process as the competing Sikorsky CH-53 K version of th Super Stallion is still under development. The Turkish Secretariat for the Defence Industry had earlier requested raising the number of helicopters to be procured to 14, of which 4 are destined for use by the Special Forces. Last August a team of Turkish officers visited the Boeing factory in Philadelphia to evaluate the CH-47F Chinook.

This F version is the most advanced version of the Chinook to date. The Chinook has been in service with the Greek Armed Forces for many years. Greece operates 9 CH-47DG and 6 CH-47SD models from Megara Army Aviation Base near Athens.

If the Turkish purchase goes ahead, combined with the intended acquisition of 123 new utility helicopters, the Turkish Armed Forces will have an entirely new fleet of helicopters with which to perform airborne assault operations on a large scale. The contenders for the new utility helicopter programme are the Agusta Westland TUHP-149 and the Sikorsky T-70, which is a special version of the S-70 for Turkey.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Update on Previous Post - Over Flight of Agathonisi Island


Several other sources now report that the Turkish fighter aircraft that flew over Agathonisi Island were intercepted by Greek alert fighters. Also, DefenceNet now reports that the Turkish fighters entered an area where Greek and French fighter aircraft were exercising in reserved airspace. A French E-2C Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft which participated in the exercise notified Greek and French aircraft of the approaching Turkish fighters.

The Turkish fighters were notified that they were entering restricted airspace in which an exercise was being conducted but this did not stop them. They approached the French Rafale fighters within 2 nautical miles. The Turkish fighters flew over Agathonisi on their way out of Greek airspace while being chased by Greek fighters.

Six Turkish Fighters Fly Over Agathonisi Island


DefenceNet reports that earlier today 6 Turkish Air Force Fighters flew over Agathonisi Island.

The formation of aircraft entered the Athens FIR at 13:00. While in Greek national airspace at 13:59 the formation proceeded to fly directly over Agathonisi Island.

In this case the over flight was not a case of a smaller number of aircraft breaking off from the main formation but instead the entire formation carried out the over flight. Two of the fighter did so at 5,100 feet altitude and four at 1,000 feet altitude. Greek fighters did not make it to the scene in time to intercept the Turkish fighters.

This latest incident is considered to be Turkey’s response to Greece’s refusal to negotiate about the status of the Aegean Sea, as was proposed by Turkey.

Hellenic Defence News note: Since the Turkish formation entered the Athens FIR at 13:00 while the over flight happened nearly an hour later means that the Hellenic Air Force no longer intercepts Turkish aircraft that enter the Athens FIR without submitting flight plans, thereby de facto accepting the Turkish position on this issue. At the same time, it is unimaginable that a flight of 6 Turkish aircraft could fly around the Aegean for an entire our without breaching Greek airspace numerous times. Why were they not intercepted then? It seems like there might be some credence to reports that have surfaced in the past about the Greek Air Force being ordered to stand down of violations occur in the eastern part of the Aegean.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Turkish Diplomat to Head OPCW – The Fox Guarding the Henhouse



The picture above shows the confidential order given by Major General Necdet
Oztorun authorising the use of chemical weapons against the PKK


Strategy-Geopolitics reports that the Turkish career diplomat Ahmet Uzumcu has been appointed to be the new head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Apart from this being a success for Turkish diplomacy it is also somewhat contradictory that the head of such an important international organisation is from a country that has systematically violated the CWC, which Turkey ratified in 1997. Turkey has made verified and long term use of chemical weapons against Kurdish PKK rebels.

The Kurdish professor Celadet Celiker in his book “Chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in the Middle East” has collected information regarding the production of chemical and biological weapons in Turkish Army facilities. He uncovered a written order dated the 25th of February 1986, which was signed by Major General Necdet Oztorun, according to which orders and instructions are given for the use of chemical weapons in the operations against the PKK. During that timeframe there were reports of the combined use of chemical bombs and napalm by the Turkish Air Force, with the obvious intention to erase chemical leftovers.

Confirmation of the use of chemical weapons against Kurdish rebels by Turkey surfaced in May of 1999. The use of chemical weapons happened in the Mallikaya area southeast of the city of Sirnak where Turkish forces used mortar shells with chemical loads against Kurds. The Kurds collected fragments of these shells which were analysed by the institute of Forensic Science of the University of Munich in Germany. On the 27th of October 1999 the German TV channel ZDF broadcasted the results on the analysis which confirmed that banned chemical substances were indeed found. The substances were derivatives of the RP707 chemical. The broadcast also uncovered that banned chemical substances for military use had been exported by the German company Buck to Turkey from 1995, causing political reactions. On the 6th of July 2001 the Human Rights Association reported the death of 20 Kurdish rebels from chemical weapons in Elmali in Yedisu province.

Except for Turkey, Albania also possessed a chemical weapons arsenal, which was discovered 10 years after Albania signed the CWC. In 2003 Albania declared to the OPCW that it possessed 16 tonnes of mustard gas in special steel containers weighing 50 kilos each. The containers were discovered in crypts which were constructed during the Hoxha era and the chemical loads were destined to arm artillery rounds and aircraft bombs.

Munitions Purchase for Leopard 2 Tanks


DefenceNet reports that the ongoing saga with the procurement of 120mm munitions for Greece’s Leopard 2 tanks will be solved for the time being with the procurement of 15,000 DM63 rounds from the German Rheinmetall company. The purchase process is currently nearing completion.

At the same time the “intermediate” solution of acquiring 10,000 DM53A1 and DM33A1 rounds from German Army stocks has been abandoned.

The same sources report that the total purchase of 120mm munitions will be reduced from the original 84,720 to around 40,000 rounds. The 15,000 rounds will be purchased immediately and there will be follow-on orders for the remainder.

This means that the munitions will be purchased directly from the manufacturer instead of being coproduced with a Greek defence industry partner for economic reasons. The purchase with Rheinmetall means that at this stage there will be no munitions order from the American company ATK or the Israeli company IMI, which were both bidding for this contract.

Obviously any follow-on orders can be given to other companies. The originally envisaged purchase of 84,720 rounds and 14,647 practice rounds carried a cost of €395.5 million. This means that the current purchase of 15,000 rounds should cost around €70 million. It has not yet been made clear whether the rounds will be armour piercing chemical energy rounds or whether they will be APFSDS-T rounds.

Friday, December 4, 2009

ICAO Chief Send Letter to Turkish Government


Several Greek sources report on a letter sent by the President of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Mr. Roberto Gonzalez to the Turkish Government with regards to violations of Greek airspace by the Turkish Air Force. Mr. Gonzalez commented on the issue after a meeting with the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Dimitris Reppas.

Mr. Gonzalez stated that in his letter he reminded Turkey of its obligations to air safety as a member of ICAO and that a system of notifications of flights must be in place.

At first glance this all seems like good news, especially when hearing comments such as those made by Assistant Minister Defence Beglitis (see here) about a framework through which Turkey’s behaviour is reported to various organisations such as NATO and the EU. But then Mr. Reppas makes the following comment with regards to all Mr. Gonzalez had to say: “facing a problem which is generated by Turkey and her policies is not a matter for ICAO”. This seems a little ungrateful after a “helping hand” from the President of ICAO itself. Then again, Mr. Gonzalez also included something in his statements which was picked up and reported by far fewer sources (for example En Kripto). Mr. Gonzalez commented on the difference between national airspace and international airspace, with him identifying international airspace as the airspace found above international waters.

So in effect, although ICAO is genuinely concerned about Turkey’s daily practices over the Aegean which endanger the lives of air travellers, at the same time ICAO itself does not (through the words of its President) recognise the Greek position of claiming airspace of 10 nautical miles yet only claiming 6 nautical miles of territorial waters. This “unique” situation cannot be solved due to the official Turkish casus belli (threat of war) in the event Greece expands her territorial waters, as allowed for by International Law.

The net result is that for decades Greece has been undermining her own arguments, rewarding Turkish aggression against Greek sovereign rights and in general has allowed Turkey to gain the upper hand in the ongoing struggle for control of the Aegean. There will never be a right time to call Turkey’s bluff and settle the airspace issue once and for all. All that has been happening is that the problem has been getting worse and is left for later generations to solve (or suffer the consequences of a solution being imposed, possibly by force).

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Worsening of Turkish Provocations in the Aegean


Strategy-Geopolitics reports on a Q&A session in the Greek Parliament. Assistant Minister of Defence Beglitis expressed his concern about the increase in provocative behaviour by Turkey in the Aegean, in answer to a question posed by MP and former head of the National Intelligence Service Korantis.

The Assistant Minister mentioned that lately there has been a qualitative increase in violations which take the form of over flights of inhabited islands, adding that “this behaviour in no instance is left unanswered. We have created a framework through which we report this behaviour to the political and military institutions of NATO and the European Union, showing that Turkey’s behaviour undermines basic and fundamental principles of International Law and basic and fundamental principles of International Relations.” He also underlined the fact that he personally notified his American counterpart of this behaviour, something that will also happen at the NATO summit and the European Council.

During his question Mr. Korantis mentioned the recent flare-up in Turkish activity with regards to airspace violations and FIR infractions but also with the NOTAMs produced by Turkey regarding the Aegean which serve several purposes. He added that reconnaissance aircraft are often found in the formations of fighter aircraft overflying Greek islands “which has its own meaning”.

Hellenic Defence News note: The endless debate about Turkish provocations in the Aegean continues between Greek politicians. Is anyone in NATO or the EU even listening anymore? Just recently NATO SG Rasmussen more or less told Greece to go sort it out and NATO placated Turkey by giving Turkey senior posts in NATO. All this talk and “informing” our allies and partners about Turkey’s “behaviour” has just undermined the Greek position. At this stage these provocations have been happening for over 30 years and are considered customary. There is only one thing that will stop this but the “300” of the Greek Parliament don’t have the stomach to tackle the issue of the big white elephant in the room.

Mi-35 Attack Helicopters Being Withdrawn from Cyprus?


Fox2 Magazine blog reports that plans are being discussed to withdraw the Cypriot Attack Helicopter Battalion from the Paphos military base in Cyprus. The issue is on the agenda of talks between the Cypriot government and the occupational leadership of the northern occupied areas. According to the same sources, the Paphos military base is intended to stay open. The helicopters would possibly be withdrawn to Greece.

The Mil Mi-35 helicopters were delivered by Russia in 2001. Their presence in the Cypriot National Guard was kept secret until 2002 when they appeared in a fly past during the funeral of General Florakis. A total of 12 helicopters were acquired. Cypriot pilots were trained on the type in Russia in 2001 and training was continued in Cyprus. One helicopter has since been lost in an accident. In 2001 the 450th Helicopter Squadron was formed of which the helicopters become part.

Fox2 Magazine mentions the historical parallel between the possible removal of these helicopters from Cyprus and the older unilateral Cypriot decision to practically disarm itself, which ultimately opened the island up for Turkey to invade.

Optic Windmill 2009


HellenicDefense.gr reports on exercise “Special Project Optic Windmill 2009” in its December issue of “Greek Defence and Security”. The exclusive report describes the exercise which focussed on net-centric and anti-ballistic missile defence. The exercise took place on the 4th and 5th of November with the participation of Dutch, Greek and German forces.

On the 4th of November 2 Patriot Firing Units of the Royal Dutch Air Force intercepted two targets simulating a tactical ballistic missile attack which were fired from an islet in the vicinity of Santorini. According to the Dutch Ministry of Defence website two Patriot missiles were fired against each target in order to maximise the chances of a hit. The Patriot engagements took place in the context of a wider and complex air defence scenario. This scenario included the participation of the Greek Air Force with an Erieye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft, a large number of fighters and one Patriot squadron. The Greek Army participated with a modernised battery of I-Hawk PIP Phase III surface to air missiles. The German side participated with the anti air warfare frigate Hamburg (F220). The coordination and safety of the participating forces was assigned to the 3rd Area Command Centre in Ziros in eastern Crete and the corresponding Dutch mobile CRC.

Dozens of Greek fighter aircraft of various types participated in the attacking “red” role while the recently delivered Greek F-16 Block 52+ Advanced fighters took on the role of the defensive “blue” force to protect the German frigate and surface to air systems. The red force successfully practiced attack scenarios using AM-39 Exocet and AGM-88B HARM missiles.

The delivery of the F-16 Block 52+ Advanced aircraft to 335 Squadron of Araxos airbase started this year and will be completed in the beginning of 2010. These fighters are currently the only ones in the Greek inventory with Link-16 capability. This system works on UHF frequencies on a time distributed multiple access protocol. The use of Link-16 allows any asset which is part of the network to transmit information and receive information from other assets on the network. As a result the networked assets receive information allowing for greater situational awareness with information being distributed on the location, direction and velocity of enemy forces, as well as friendly ones and their status. In the recent exercise the network assets included the Greek F-16 Block 52+ Advanced fighters, the Erieye AEW&C aircraft, the Dutch CRC as well as the Hamburg frigate.

The multinational “Optic Windmill” exercise was held for the first time in 1996 on initiative of the Dutch Armed Forces with participation of Germany and the USA. The purpose of the exercise was wide range air defence. According to NATO this includes defence against ballistic missiles. The exercise was originally held at the Dutch airbase “De Peel” but the 2001 exercise was held in Italy. That exercise was cut short due to the attacks of September 11th on the twin towers and the Pentagon. Until 2002 the exercise was held each year and after 2002 every two years. From 2004 the exercise is conducted at the NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI) in Crete allowing NATO forces to simulate deployment in far away theatres of operation.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

New Fighter Aircraft Top Priority


DefenceNet reports that the upgrade programme of existing fighter aircraft will be delayed indefinitely as the Air Force General Staff has updated its spending priorities. The programme to upgrade the existing F-16 and Mirage 2000 fleet is not even in the list of top 10. However, the acquisition of a new fighter aircraft has now become the number one priority.


The upgrade of the existing fleet was previously in the top three of most important programmes but has now dropped to fourteenth place. This means that the operational need for a new fighter aircraft, combined with the current economic situation, is forcing the Air Force to allocate most of the budget to this new acquisition.

One result of this is that there will be no positive response to Lockheed Martin’s proposal for the upgrading of the existing F-16 fleet which expires on the 31st of December 2009.

It was clear that if the upgrade programme was executed, with its expected cost of 1.1 to 1.3 billion Euros, it would delay the decision for the new fighter aircraft, especially if the upgrade was combined with the purchase of a further 10 F-16s to supplement the second squadron being formed at Araxos airbase. This was a scenario which Lockheed Martin sought to happen as it would delay the decision for the new fighter aircraft until about 2013, which would in turn give the F-35 a better chance of being selected.

The question remains whether the Hellenic Air Force requires an aircraft with the characteristics of the F-35 (stealth, first strike, limited weapons load) but this is a debate that will keep everyone occupied for some time to come.

Currently it has been decided to allocate all available funds to the procurement of the new fighter aircraft, something expected to cost between 3 billion and 4.5 billion Euros. The purchase is expected to be for 40 aircraft so that the Air Force’s combat strength can remain near the 270 level.

Other priorities are also interesting. The number two priority for the Air Force has become infrastructure. This affects the exploitation of aircraft, the housing of personnel, weapons storage, base security etc.

The acquisition of a new type of trainer aircraft is on the fifth position on the priority list. The current fleet of T-2 aircraft cannot sufficiently prepare pilots for aircraft such as the F-16. Also, the creation of a dedicated F-16 training squadron is being abandoned as it has not been possible to secure the transfer of second hand F-16D aircraft from other sources. Operational training is also a high priority with the acquisition of Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation being in the top ten list of priorities.

The acquisition of new Search And Rescue helicopters remains a high priority, as is the acquisition of self-defence suites for the fleet of C-130H transport aircraft.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Stolen Helicopter Engine Found


In an exclusive “En Kripto” reports that the stolen Makila engine of a Super Puma helicopter has been recovered (for the original story on the theft see here). The engine was stolen some weeks ago from the 202nd State Aircraft Factory. In the beginning of November a report surfaced which claimed that a part or parts of the stolen engine were possibly found in Igoumenitsa Port (see here). En Kripto reports that according to its sources the engine was found whole inside a container in Igoumenitsa Port and was about to be installed in a cigarette smuggling vessel.

Installing such an engine in a racing boat makes their performance skyrocket and virtually impossible to be intercepted by the coastguard. Installing turboshaft engines in racing boats is relatively common outside of Greece and there are several companies that specialise in this.

En Kripto further makes a connection between the engine theft and the confiscation some months ago of a high power smuggling vessel by the Greek Coastguard and wonders whether the theft is a some sort of “answer” to the confiscation.

Μολὼν λαβέ - Then and Now


Molon Lave was a phrase that was once used to mean something along the line of “over my dead body”. Literally it means “come and get them”. It is a phrase first used by the Spartans when called upon to surrender their arms by the invading Persians. Since then it has continued to be a phrase of defiance. The reason I wrote “was once used” is due to a very disturbing piece of news found on Strategy-Geopolitics which quotes a small newspaper article from Realnews of the 29th of November. If this news is true then “Molon Lave” literally means come and get it, as in “come and get it because we’ll give it to you”.

The small article reports on frustration caused in the ranks of the Hellenic Air Force last week due to a verbal order. Supposedly according to this order all training flights over the Aegean between Friday and Tuesday were cancelled due to the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha. The only exception made was for aircraft on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) in forward bases which intercept Turkish Air Force aircraft violating Greek airspace.

Such news really does not come as any surprise anymore. Greece and Turkey have signed Confidence Building Measures agreements in the past which contained such provisions. Unfortunately the areas over which these provisions rule were either international areas of the Aegean or Greek areas, not Turkish. Also, it will be interesting to see what restraint the Turkish Air Force will show during Greek religious festivals. Mark the 6th of January in your calendar and we will see.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Turkish MESA to Be Delivered Before the End of 2010


DefenceNet reports that the initial acceptance of the B-737-700 AEW&C aircraft of the Wedgetail program by Australia signals the countdown for acceptance of the same system by the Turkish Air Force. Despite the serious problems encountered so far by Boeing engineers it seems that now project development is accelerating. This means that, barring any surprises, Turkey will have one of these systems in her possession by the end of 2010 or the beginning of 2011 at the latest. This is a system which is capable of changing the balance of power in the Aegean. The MESA radar is unique worldwide in that it can simultaneously execute a radar scan and electronically jam the opponent’s systems.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

New Turkish Exercise between Rhodes and Kastellorizo


DefenceNet reports that Turkey issued a NOTAM announcing a live fire exercise in the area between Rhodes and Kastellorizo. The area being reserved is almost twice as large as the area reserved for a recent SAR exercise. With this new NOTAM Turkey once again refuses to recognise Greek jurisdiction in the area and are literally cutting the area in two, thereby isolating Kastellorizo.

The NOTAM states that the area falls under Turkish jurisdiction and this cannot be seen as an isolated fact. It is part of a larger plan to isolate Kastellorizo and not recognise the island’s right to a continental shelf.

Continental shelf, FIR and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) are what Turkey is bringing into question through its policy of not recognising the existing FIR limits between Rhodes and Kastellorizo.

Yesterday another Turkish NOTAM was issued regarding a Turkish exercise in which it rejects Greek jurisdiction on parts of the Athens FIR:

A3718/09 (Issued for LTBB LGGG) - NAVIGATIONAL WARNING TO ALL CONCERNED:
REF (A) TURKISH MESSAGE 201240 LTAAYEYX
REF (B) GREEK MESSAGE 231207 LGACYAYC
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED IN TURKISH MESSAGE IN REF (A) REMAIN UNCHANGED
AND THE MESSAGE IN REF (A) IS VALID AND EFFECTIVE. THE GREEK MESSAGE
IN REF (B) IS NULL AND VOID.
TURKEY ALSO WOULD LIKE TO EMPHASIZE THAT NO FURTHER EXPLANATION WILL BE GIVEN TO ANY OBJECTION RAISED TO TURKISH NOTAM IN REF (A). SFC - FL100, 25 NOV 13:10 2009 UNTIL 25 NOV 22:00 2009. CREATED: 25 NOV 13:25 2009

Regarding FIR and Flight Safety



One of the ongoing disputes between Greece and Turkey is the fact that Turkey refuses to report its military flight activity in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR). It’s excuse is the fact that the Chicago convention considers state aircraft exempt from filing flight plans for military flights. Maybe we’ll explore this debate in depth in another article at some point. For now here are some thoughts and some related news on the matter.

First of all, the Chicago Convention which came into force in 1947 paved the way for countries to divide up airspace in FIR sectors for the purpose of adequately controlling air traffic and keeping air travel safe. Since then air travel and air traffic have evolved considerably. It has now become customary for military aircraft to file flight plans with other FIRs when carrying out flights there. Turkey maintains that this is not necessary.

So here is a piece of news not directly related to Greece or Turkey. RTL News Netherlands reports on the interception of a pair of Russian bombers which were flying through the Amsterdam FIR 75 km north of Ameland Island, well outside of Dutch airspace but within the Dutch FIR sector of responsibility. The Russian bombers had not submitted flight plans and failed to identify themselves. They were first intercepted by Danish Air Force fighters which then handed over the procedure to 2 Dutch fighters. Denmark and The Netherlands are both NATO countries and as such follow standard NATO procedures. What did they do when 2 unidentified and unannounced aircraft entered their areas of responsibility? They carried out interceptions. It’s a shame Greece’s NATO partners think that civilian air traffic over the Aegean does not deserve to fly in the same safety environment. Here is a recording of the interception process that took place.

So now we move on to some news from “En Kripto” blog according to which military flight activity in the Aegean has caused problems for civilian air traffic in the last two days. According to the report there were so many interceptions and dogfights between Greek and Turkish fighters in the area between Ikaria, Samos and Chios that the Athens Flight Control Centre had to delay the flights of civil aircraft as there was no free space available under 6,000 feet.

Other than that, the European Union will decide next month on how to get Turkey into the Union.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Turkish Air Force Surprise Mobilisation Exercise


DefenceNet reports that the Turkish Air Force conducted a large scale mobilisation of its Air Force last week in a surprise move. This mobilisation, which happened Wednesday the 18th and Thursday the 19th of November involved 80% of Turkish air bases and two thirds of the inventory’s fighter aircraft. SEAD mission exercises were carried out from Merzifon airbase.

All the above happened completely without notice. On Wednesday between 09:30 and 10:00 the Turkish Civil Aviation Authority issued two NOTAMs with regards to air displays.

The “air displays” started just two hours after the NOTAMs were issued and all air bases between Eskisehir and Dalaman were involved. The NOTAMs had durations of just two hours and one of them was for an area that on its west side coincided with the Athens FIR.

The Wednesday activity took place in the area between Thrace, Imvros (Gokceada), Limnos, Mitilini and Eskisehir, which covers the northern axis of operations. The airbases of Bandirma, Balikeshir and Eskisehir were put on a sudden state of red alert. These bases include the 1st, 6th and 9th combat wings (AJU). This was a large exercise over a large area involving the backbone of the Turkish Air Force and was presented officially as an air display.

On Thursday more NOTAMs were issued between 08:30 and 09:00 in the morning covering large areas for the purpose of air exercises and air refuelling. The first NOTAM covered the entire Turkish territory and units from Merzifon, Akinci and Erhac participated.

One point of interest was the fact that aircraft from 151 Squadron (Filo) which operates out of Merzifon headed west and were refuelled in the air by tankers while loaded with AGM-88B HARM missiles. This was a sudden SEAD exercise.

At the same time a Combat Search And Rescue exercise took place in the west of Turkey.

The types of exercises that took place included SEAD, air superiority and CSAR. In other words, exercises in the type of operations that would be needed for the Turkish Air Force to mount a surprise attack.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Airspace Violations of the Day


DefenceNet reports that today a total of 16 Turkish Air Force fighters and one CN-235 Maritime Patrol Aircraft violated Aegean airspace on 7 occasions. This happened in the northern, central and southern sectors of the Aegean. Six of the Turkish fighters were armed. All Turkish aircraft were intercepted by Greek fighters.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Continuity in the New Frigate Purchase



DefenceNet reports that Minister of Defence Venizelos met with his French counterpart, Herve Morin, today who is on an official visit to Greece. The meeting mainly focussed on current Greek acquisition programmes.

Specifically the new frigate requirement was discussed about which Minister Venizelos stated: “we expressed our will to continue negotiations under the conditions that there will be the greatest possible Greek involvement, technology transfer and the biggest possible Greek added value”.

With regards to the total cost of the purchase the minister stated that this has not yet been determined and that it is subject to negotiations. With regards to the other two procurement programmes in which the French are involved, that of the NH-90 purchase and the anticipated Super Puma SAR helicopter order, the minister stated that initiatives will be undertaken to tackle the current problems and for finding commonly beneficial solutions.

Aids to Minister Venizelos connected the two helicopter programmes, implying that the sooner the French side finds solutions to the NH-90 problems, the sooner negotiations will progress on the purchase of 15 Super Pumas. Also, it is said that the French Minister of Defence admitted that the UAE also has made complaints about their NH-90s.

With regards to the new fighter programme Minister Venizelos made clear that this case has not yet been looked at. The French minister stated that France sees the Greek Frigate programme as one in the framework of industrial cooperation between the Greek shipyards and the French government which will include technology transfer. He also announced that within the next months an agreement will be signed between Greece and France which will record the entire range of defence and military cooperation on a bilateral and international level. The aim is the development of a common European defence architecture.

In relation to the issue of illegal immigration and the continuous flow of illegal immigrants from the Turkish coast the French Minister declared that he is in favour “of a common surveillance area from the Baltic to the Mediterranean and the Aegean through the creation of a network that will allow us to know what is happening at any time and to allocate resources accordingly”.

This last statement by the French Minister shows understanding for the problem faced by Greece and willingness to help countries that act as entry points for illegal immigrants to the EU.