In an exclusive, DefenceNet reports on a leap in operational capabilities for the Greek Air Force. An exercise took place to test the cooperation between the newly delivered F-16 Block52M fighters of 335 Squadron and a EMB-145H Erieye AEW using their Link-16 capability. 5 single seat F-16 “C” and 1 two seat “D” models were used in the test which lasted about an hour.
The news is important as it concerns the operational use of two major systems in the Air Force’s inventory. The Link-16 is the most advanced western data transfer system currently in use in respect to data transfer capabilities as well as its resistance to Electronic Counter Measures (ECM).
Other HAF aircraft do not have this system, not even the recently upgraded Mirage 2000-5.
Other news from DefenceNet is the delivery of another 4 F-16 Block52M aircraft to 335 Squadron in Araxos yesterday. Two C models and two D models were delivered bringing the Squadron’s total inventory to 21 aircraft currently. Another 5 single seat C models and 4 two seat D models are still to be delivered to complete the order for 30 aircraft. The Air Force is currently considering activating a second squadron for the use of these 30 aircraft.
Hellenic Defence News note: The news of the integration of Link-16 capabilities is certainly important. However, it must not be forgotten that the Turkish Air Force has already started an MLU programme for its F-16 fleet which will include the Link-16 in all fighters undergoing the upgrade. This upgrade, combined with the future delivery of the Turkish AEW aircraft will severely erode any air superiority currently enjoyed by the Greek side over the Aegean. The Greek programme to upgrade older F-16 fighters is still stuck in a cumbersome decision making process.
Also, the Greek Air Force’s structure has always relied on a strength of 20 aircraft in a squadron. Many squadrons operate with fewer aircraft due to attrition. It is inconceivable for the Air Force to split the 30 aircraft into two squadrons thereby depleting a squadron’s strength from the start.