Saturday, November 6, 2010

More Howitzers for Greece

In 2008 talks started between Greece and Germany for the transfer of 223 surplus German M109A3GE-A2 howitzers to Greece. The deal was signed on the 17th of February 2010 and now finally the first 70 of these will arrive in Thessaloniki port on the 10th of November. (Source)

The A2 version of these howitzers is more advanced than the existing A1 models in the Greek Army. Once deliveries of the 223 howitzers is completed all towed artillery in the Greek Army will be withdrawn, with the exception of 18 M56 Pack guns.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Papanikolis Submarine in Greek Hands

Yesterday, 2 November 2010, one of the largest operational issues of the Hellenic Navy started being solved when the S120 Papanikolis was officially handed over to the Navy during a minor ceremony that took place in Germany.

This event was triggered by the sale of the Hellenic Shipyards to Privinvest, a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi Mar. The events that led to this sale could have serious consequences for Greek shipbuilding as the negotiations were conducted with the Greek side being under serious pressure as a result of the German threat to shut down the shipyard. The years of inaction by the Greek side eventually led to this point, risking the jobs of hundreds of people and risking the loss of a strategic sector of industry.

The submarine will sail to Greece over the next few weeks. This now paves the way for the remaining 4 submarines to gradually enter service.

One problem that has not been dealt with is the purchase of modern torpedoes. For the time being this submarine, along with the others in its class, will be the most modern conventional submarines on the planet but relying on old weaponry which will come from older submarines.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Video from Recent CSAR Exercise

This is the first released video from the recent Greek-Israeli CSAR exercise

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Greek Israeli CSAR Exercise

DefenceNet has published some exclusive images from the recent Combat Search And Rescue exercise conducted between Greek and Israeli air assets in Andravida. Israeli and Greek Apache attack helicopters worked together in a multitude of scenarios with the aid of HAF fighters from various squadrons. See the rest of the pictures here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Turkey Continuing Provocations in the Aegean

Today saw renewed over flights of Farmakonisi Island by Turkish Air Force fighter aircraft. The incident happened at 10:18 this morning and involved 8 F-16s. The aircraft were intercepted by the Greek side.

The latest provocation is likely a response to the current military exercises taking place in Andravida air force base in Greece between Greek and Israeli Combat Search And Rescue assets. This particular exercise is seen by many as a precursor to a possible Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

F-16 Diplomacy over the Aegean

In 32 years Turkey overturned the status quo in the Aegean and succeeded in bringing NATO decisions against our interests.
By Kira Adam - source
According to published figures by the Ministry of Defence as well as the Turkish General Staff, the analogy of Turkish to Greek aircraft flying over the Aegean is approximately 9 to 1. In 2009 there were 593 incursions into the Athens FIT, 980 violations of Greek airspace and 236 dogfights. In 2010 the dogfights have been reduced to 14.
These figures mean that daily there are about 16 to 40 Turkish aircraft overflying the Aegean wile only 2 to 4 Greek aircraft are scrambled to intercept them. The interceptors avoid approaching the Turkish aircraft too closely. No wonder there are hardly any dogfights to speak of.
Today’s analogy of flights over the Aegean is exactly the opposite of what it was in 1978, the year the first exploratory meeting was held between the two general secretaries from the respective Ministries of Foreign Affairs.
In 1978 the Turkish side claimed that Greece’s position was hostile and constituted a threat towards Turkey, all because Greece conducted 95% of the flights over the Aegean and Turkey only 5%.
The Turkish Effort
From then until now the Turkish effort to solidify perceived sovereign and economic rights in the Aegean by performing flights over the sea has been steadfast and independent of government or ruling political party.
As time has gone by, and as Greek positions were neither improved nor updated, many Greek sovereign rights are tending to become Turkish gains.
The huge volume of official documents that now exists clearly depicts the relationship between the Turkish flights over the Aegean and Turkish policies and diplomacy regarding the Aegean.
The 5% of Turkish flights over the Aegean in 1978 went up fivefold in 1979 to 25%. Turkish flights in 1979 for the first time reached the Kalogeroi Islets (north of Andros Island) and were aimed at establishing the area east of the 25th meridian under Turkish control. With these flights Turkey sought to establish rights in the Aegean.
At the same time Greece accepted the Hamburg Treaty of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) with some very difficult results for the Greek side. The Treaty (articles 2.1.4 and 2.1.5) imposed on Greece and Turkey that they should agree (something which would never happen) the areas of jurisdiction for search and rescue. In the absence of an agreement, each it was up to each country to set its own area of jurisdiction. This paved the way for Turkey, which knew there would never be an agreement, to start intensive flight operations over the Aegean up to the 25th meridian in order to strengthen the practice of controlling half the Aegean.
On top of that, in 2001 the Turkish parliament passed law 24611 with which it unilaterally declared half the Aegean as falling under Turkish jurisdiction for search and rescue purposes. Greece did not react.
From 1979 until the end of 1995 the share of Turkish flights over the Aegean remained at 25% and the Greek ones at 75%.
From December 1995 there was an unusually large and violent Turkish upsurge in aerial activity, with dozens of over flights over Greek islands and daily dogfights, which resulted in teh share of each country’s flights over the Aegean reaching 50%.
The artificial crisis at Imia
Even though the Turkish aim was clear and was aimed at preventing Greece from extending its territorial waters to 12 nautical miles and to nullify the Greek continental shelf and exclusive economic zone (EEZ), no Greek government took adequate steps to intercept these Turkish provocations.
In December of 1995 the Greek parliament ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law Of the Sea (UNCLOS).
One month after this vote Turkey provoked the artificial crisi at Imia. The same year Turkey raised the grey zones issue, claiming that over 80 islands, islets and rocks do not belong to Greece. This position is still being held on to today with Turkish over flights over these islands.
The equal share of 50% in flights over the Aegean lasted from 1995 to 2006 when Turkish flights suddenly reached 75%. From August 2006 Greek flights were reduced to 25%.
One of the causes of this was Turkey’s success in getting NATO to issue an order with which it prohibits Greek fighter aircraft to overfly Greek islands which are located east of the 25th meridian.
Today Greek flights over the Aegean have dropped to 10% of the total and Turkish flights are now at 90%.
From 1996 until today the Greek side has done nothing more that issue demarches and complaints towards Turkey regarding Turkish over flights of Greek islands. In other words Greece is using means which in no way safeguard Greek interests and sovereign rights in practice and hesitates to use more powerful diplomatic means, such as bringing the issue to the UN.
Each demarche by Athens to Ankara is answered by Turkey claiming that no over flight took place of any island which has been ceded to Greece by international treaty...

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Mid-Air Collision between 2 F-16s

Earlier today 2 Hellenic Air Force F-16 aircraft collided in mid air during a training exercise south of Crete.

All reports indicate that one pilot is dead and one wounded.

The aircraft belonged to 340 Squadron based at the 115th Combat Wing in Souda. They were part of a flight of multiple aircraft, 6 or 8. One of the aircraft was a single seat C model and the other a two seat D model. Two pilots were rescued shortly after their ejection. The third was found dead several hours later.

This is the second mid air collision between HAF F-16s. The first happened in 2004 and involved 2 F-16D Block 30 aircraft.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Imia Islets are Greek – Turkish MTA Agrees

In 1996 Greece and Turkey nearly went to war over the two Islets in the Aegean known as Imia or Limnia (Kardak in Turkish). The website of the Turkish Directorate of Mineral Research & Exploration (website) is still showing a map with the correct and established borders as Turkey herself has recognised. The map can be found here.

The Imia Islets cannot be seen on the map but are located to the west of the depicted border and to the right of Kalolimnos (Prassole) and above Pserimons (Kappari).The Imia Islets are located at 37º02’N – 27º08’E.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fox2 Magazine Volume 4

The guys at Fox2 Magazine have done a great job again with their online publication, now on its fourth volume. You can find the new edition here (in Greek).

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Apache Accident Update: Technical Support

It appears that in the final two weeks leading up to yesterday’s accident the 2nd Attack Helicopter Battalion was left without technical support from Boeing, the helicopter’s manufacturer. Bureaucracy or irresponsibility by some in the Greek Ministry of Defence blocked the signing of a standard Technical Assistance Agreement with the US State Department. This agreement binds the client, in the case the Greek government, to confidentiality with regards to classified support procedures.

The Greek Ministry of Defence was approached several times by the US side to have this agreement signed, as foreseen by the acquisition agreement. The result was that a tree man support team, two from Boeing and one from General Electric, left teh country around the 20th of July, 12 days before the tragic accident. They were no longer allowed to stay at Megara base by the US State Department as the TAA was not signed.

The two companies had actually already extended the stay of the support team on their own account, as the timeframe for them to leave was the 30th of June. They did this as the equipment was very new to the Greek Army, combined with the fact that the most experienced technicians from the Greek side had recently retired due to the new Greek pension laws. The cost of the TAA was several hundreds of thousands of dollars, an amount that is easily justified by the task at hand.

The US side notified the Greek Ministry of Defence on the 15th of June, the 12th of July and the 29th of July of the need to sign the TAA. The first notice made clear that the stay of the support team would end would end on the 30th of June. The 12th of July the Greek side was notified that according to US law the support team was by now in Greece illegally and would have to leave the country. The last notice stated that the support team would have to leave immediately.

The absence of technical support by the manufacturer with such an advanced weapons system is a major problem when the equipment has been in the inventory for less than a year. There is no justification for not signing the TAA. Even if the Greek side had objections to some or the entire agreement there should have been a notification to the US side of these disagreements. This did not happen.

If in the course of the accident investigation it is discovered that the helicopter crashed due to mechanical failure for which Boeing is responsible the absence of the Technical Assistance Agreement absolves Boeing from any responsibility.

Possible Cause of the Accident

Currently the most possible scenario as to the cause of the accident is the loss of control by the crew during an autorotation exercise. It has been confirmed that the pilot had requested permission from the control tower at Megara to perform the manoeuvre and that this permission was given.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Greek Apache Accident Kills Two Crew

Tragedy struck the Hellenic Army Aviation Corps today when an AH-64DHA Apache attack helicopter crashed during what may have been a test flight. Details of the crash are still sketchy but the two crewmembers have been reported killed. A fire broke out immediately following the crash. The helicopter appears to have crashed within the military base perimeter of where it operated.

The helicopter belonged to the 2nd Attack Helicopter Battalion based in Megara, near Athens. This is the second accident involving the Apache helicopter. The first happened in 2008 to an older A+ model which also killed both crew. That accident took place during a night exercise simulating an attack on a battalion of Hawk SAM missiles.

Greece’s AH-64DHA helicopters only recently became operational after a three year delay in their acceptance by the Greek side.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Turkey exploits 'window of opportunity', moving rapidly to acquire nuclear weapons

By Gregory R. Copley, Editor, Global Information System

A quiet but intense debate is ongoing within senior circles of the governing Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi (Justice and Development Party: AKP) in Turkey over whether or not this is the time to proceed rapidly with the development and acquisition of nuclear weapons.

At stake is Turkey's strategic parity with other nuclear powers in the region: Russia, Israel, Pakistan, and Iran. Highly-placed sources indicate that Turkey has been deliberating the acquisition of military nuclear capability for some time, but has been constrained by its need to maintain good relations with the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO) partners generally, as well as the European Union (EU). The Turkish General Staff (Genelkurmay Baskanlari: GB) is also engaged in this debate, but, for the most part, this is a debate dominated by the civilian leadership.

Turkish acquisition of nuclear weapons would significantly transform the balance of power and the strategic dynamic of the Eastern Mediterranean, the Greater Black Sea Basin (GBSB), and the Caucasus, and would be the cornerstone of Turkey's ambitious program to restore what it sees as its historical pan-Turkist mission. Indeed, without nuclear weapons — at least as far as regional perception is concerned — Turkey could not compete against a nuclear Iran or be seen as an independent "great power" in the region.

Nuclear weapons research has long been underway, under conditions of extreme secrecy, in Turkey, and the AKP leadership is aware that it is probable that this will become public knowledge as the effort becomes more intense.
It is not totally dependent on, but benefits from, the acquisition by Turkey of uranium-based nuclear power reactors, which will ultimately provide a base of fissionable materials to sustain an indigenous nuclear weapons program. Meanwhile, however, nuclear weapons research — which requires only a minimal amount of fissionable material, obtainable on the world market — can continue separately. There is no doubt that Turkey's growing relationships with Iran, Brazil, and Pakistan have been — as far as the Turkish leadership is concerned — with the military nuclear program partially in mind.
As far back as 1998, Turkish media reports indicated that then-Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had offered Turkey cooperation in the development of nuclear weapons.1 [Significantly, Nawaz Sharif is poised to make a political comeback in Pakistan in the next general elections.] The dramatic lowering of leverage which the U.S. and EU have over Turkish strategic direction over the past 18 months, coupled with the growing separation with Israel at the behest of the AKP as a means of reducing the domestic Turkish political influence of the General Staff, along with the perceived need to firmly establish a stronger measure of Turkish independence from Russia, are all contributory factors in the Turkish Government's moves to press ahead as rapidly as possible with the nuclear weapons and nuclear power programs....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Military Duty: Serving on the Border

It was a long train journey from Athens up to the land border between Greece and Turkey. It seemed to never end. All of us on board had recently become corporals or sergeants and now we were on our way to serve the compulsory 9 months at a front line unit. The total length of service was 18 months back then, 18 months which went by slowly, very slowly.

When we arrived at the station we were picked up by a truck and dropped off at our battalion, which would be home for the next 9 months. It was already late so they put us up in first company for the night. The next morning we had to report to HQ where we were assigned to individual companies. I was the only one to be placed in the Support Company, the company that handles heavy weapons, recon and such. At the time I didn’t know whether that would be good or bad for me. The group broke up and we all walked down to the different buildings separately.

Welcome to Evros – Air Force Style

While I was walking down I started hearing a familiar noise far in the distance, behind me. It only took me a second to realise that it was the sound of a jet aircraft engine (being an airplane nut and all). It also took about one second for that distant sound to turn into the loudest noise I ever heard. I instinctively ducked as a huge shadow passed over my head, so fast I could barely make it out. What just happened? I had no time to think and it happened again! This time 2 more shadows rushed by followed by another 2 a second apart! My eye caught a glimpse of the so familiar silhouette of an F-4 Phantom blasting by in what must have been nearly the speed of sound.

It must have been about ten seconds since all this had happened and I was still awestruck and probably looking like the newby I really was. Then another round followed of more fighters dashing by left and right, so low it felt like they were flying between the trees! What a sight.

When the show was finally over another sergeant walking by smiled at me and said “you’ll get used to it, happens all the time”.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Peace Xenia IV

By Eric Hehs

Five new Fighting Falcons touched down for the first time at Araxos AB in Greece on 28 January 2010. The Block 52+ F-16s, painted in unique light blue and gray camouflage schemes, constitute the last of thirty F-16s the Hellenic Air Force is receiving as part of the Peace Xenia IV program.

This most recent Peace Xenia program, which covers the fourth purchase of F-16s by Greece, began in December 2005 when the Greek government signed an agreement for the delivery of thirty aircraft with an option for ten more. (The option for additional aircraft was not exercised.) The purchase consists of twenty single-seat F-16C models and ten two-seat F-16D models. All are powered by Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines.

The new aircraft will populate two squadrons of 116 Combat Wing at Araxos—the 335 Tiger Squadron and a second squadron to be designated either 334 or 342. Both squadrons will be operational in 2010. A third squadron at Araxos, 336 Olympus Squadron, flies A-7E Corsairs. The A-7s are expected to remain in operation for at least two more years. Col. Kostas Vouzios, commander of 116 CW since June 2008, has overseen the transition to the new F-16s. “Araxos was not the high priority for our air force before the F-16s arrived,” he says. “Now it is. My job is to make sure the transition goes smoothly.”

Vouzios brings strong F-16 credentials to the task. Besides having more than 2,000 hours of flying time in the F-16, he was the former commander of 347 Squadron at Nea Anchialos AB, where he oversaw the HAF transition to Block 50 F-16s during the Peace Xenia II program. Vouzios’ experience at Nea Anchialos was further supplemented by his responsibilities in the planning and operations at HAF Tactical Air Force command during the Peace Xenia III program, which involved establishing the first Block 52+ F-16 squadrons for the HAF at Souda Bay AB on Crete.

“Our air force has accumulated a lot of experience through the years with several versions of the F-16,” Vouzios says. “We are using what we have learned to benefit the Peace Xenia IV program here at Araxos.”

Modern Facilities

Araxos is about a thirty-minute drive west along the northern Peloponnese coast from Patra, which is Greece’s third-largest city. Construction of the base began around 1958, and it became operational in 1962. The 336, the first squadron operating out of the base, began with the F-84F and later switched to the F-104G. The 335 was established on the base in 1977, also flying F-104Gs. The F-104s were replaced with A-7Es beginning in 1992. The 335 began receiving Block 52+ F-16s in May 2009.

Araxos was chosen as the newest F-16 base for both strategic and available space reasons. Another factor taken into account was the additional space that will open up when the A-7s retire from the HAF fleet. A sign just inside the front gate offers the first hint that new facilities are accompanying the new aircraft. The sign shows the Lockheed Martin logo.

Aside from producing the aircraft and providing technical assistance, the company functions as a general contractor for many of the infrastructure improvements associated with the F-16 as part of an offset program. The new facilities include two squadron hangars, two squadron operations buildings, and an engine maintenance building. The two squadrons also share a f light simulator building.

“We have the best aircraft facilities in our air force. They are above our expectations,” Vouzios says. “The new hangars are designed to be maintenance friendly, which they are. A new mentality comes with the new facilities.” The new mentality at Araxos can be viewed as a shift into the digital age. “Our most important improvement is a fiber optic network,” Vouzios continues. “We hope to have a paperless operational system fully functioning by the end of 2010. The network will link all activities at the base—logistics, base operations, and maintenance. Even our security and ground-based air defense units will be attached to the network.”

335 Squadron

The 335 Squadron functions as an elemental node on that network. “As of November 2009, we have only two network terminals—one at our operations desk and another in the maintenance squadron—so we use the radio a lot and do a lot on paper,” notes Lt. Col. Evangelos Tzikas, commander of 335 Squadron. “But that situation will change quickly in the coming months as we incorporate more terminals in the squadron.” Half of the thirty F-16s and forty-five or so F-16 pilots at Araxos are assigned to 335 Squadron....

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Cherry on Top, More Airspace Violations

As of today there are two Turkish research vessels searching for oil in the Aegean, in areas which Greece considers fall within its EEZ. To complete the picture, 4 Turkish F-16s flew over Agathonisi Island today. The 4 aircraft were part of a formation of 8 F-16s which entered the Aegean this afternoon between Chios and Samos Islands. 4 aircraft broke off from the formation and flew over Agathonisi at an altitude of 3,200 metres.

The Turkish aircraft were intercepted by Greek alert fighters.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Israeli Exercise in the Aegean

Israel will conduct a large scale aerial refuelling exercise over the Aegean between the 18th and 19th of July. The exercise was agreed between the Greek and Israeli governments. It is the first time that such manoeuvres take place which seem to be aimed at practising Combat Search And Rescue far behind enemy lines. The exercise could also be aimed at transporting Special Forces far into enemy territory to act as target designators. The target, obviously, seems to be Iran.

Greek Forces will have no direct involvement with the exercise. The exercise itself will involve C-130 aircraft configured as tankers and CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters as the transports. The entire exercise is veiled in secrecy on the one hand due to the recent events with the Gaza aid flotilla as well as due to its special nature. The route the aircraft will likely take extends from the Athens – Nicosia FIR boundaries via the northwest of Karpathos and from there northeast Aghion Oros.

According to Defence Ministry sources there is also a preliminary agreement to repeat the recent Minos 2010 exercise between Greece and Israel which was interrupted last May due to the events surrounding the Gaza aid flotilla. This is pending approval from the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Turkey Set on Raising Tension in the Aegean

After a few days on cat and mouse games where Turkey would stage accidents at sea in order to contest Greek jurisdiction on Search And Rescue areas Turkey returned to its old ways of airspace violations and over flights of Greek sovereign space.

Yesterday 8 Turkish Air Force fighters, 4 F-16s and 4 F-4s, entered the Athens FIR unannounced north of Samos Island at 15:59. On their way out of Aegean airspace the Turkish fighters overflew the Greek island of Agathonisi, as has been done numerous times in the past.

Due to the recent restrictions imposed on the Greek Ministry of Defence with regards to informing the public it is unclear whether the Turkish aircraft were successfully intercepted or not. It has ben reported that the Turkish aircraft overflew Agathonisi Island after ben intercepted by Greek fighters but also that Greek fighters did not make it to the area in time for an interception.

Regardless of Turkish provocations, Greek PM Papandreou continues his insistence on secret diplomacy with Turkey where only Greek sovereign rights are at stake without the slightest hint of informing the Greek public.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Search And Rescue Games

An incident took place yesterday during which Greek and Turkish Search And Rescue assets became entangled around the Greek islet of Kalogeri, near Andros Island. The Turkish side mounted a SAR operation in the area after supposedly receiving a distress call from an aircraft which witnessed a surface vessel in distress. The aircraft which made this report was none other than a Turkish Air Force F-16 which at that moment was flying in the area. The Turkish aircraft was part of a flight of 4 aircraft which had entered the area without submitting flight plans. Greek Mirage 2000 interceptors which had taken off to identify the intruding aircraft reported that there was no surface vessel to be seen in the area.

Regardless, Greek SAR assets including a Navy frigate and also a FRONTEX vessel, arrived in the area to conduct a search. Turkish helicopters also arrived on the scene, with “cover” provided by yet another formation of Turkish F-16s.

The whole incident appears to have been a hoax by the Turkish side to once more lay claim on having Search And Rescue rights to vast areas of the Aegean which fall within Greek jurisdiction.

The Greek side responded with a large array of assets to aid in the search, at considerable cost, which was most likely meant to show that Greece will not resign itself to Turkish claims to the area. After the Turkish helicopters and ships left the area the Greek frigate also left.

So far there have been no reports of any vessels missing in the area, which underlines the fact that this was most likely another Turkish attempt to create tension in the area.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Greece to Upgrade 12 AH-64A+ Apache Attack Helicopters

The Greek Army seems to have decided to upgrade its older AH-64A+ Apache attack helicopters in order to bring them to the same standards of the latest batch of 12 AH-64D helicopters. Unfortunately only 12 helicopters will be upgraded from the 19 older models currently in service. The result will be a force of 24 AH-64D helicopters with an additional 7 older models remaining. The remaining 7 could be upgraded at a later date but this remains to be seen.

The smaller number of helicopters that will undergo an upgrade has to do with the current financial situation in Greece. The previous budget of €650 million will now most likely be slashed to €300-€400 million. The fact that there will be an upgrade at all is the result of the insistence of the Hellenic Army Chief of Staff who recognises the importance of this particular weapon.

The upgrade is also necessary from a logistical and support prospective as the older A models will soon no longer be supported as the model disappears from US service.

Hellenic Defence News note: It is a widely known that the Greek Army’s operational needs are for at least 2 full attack helicopter battalions of 24 aircraft each. With this current upgrade only one battalion will be available with a further 7 older aircraft of questionable readiness due to lack of support. Having served on the border in Greece and having participated in various exercises I know one thing. I would rather have a friendly Apace overhead and sit in an antiquated M-113 instead of no Apache overhead and sit in a BMP-3, Bradley or Marder. There’s nothing like having the world’s most powerful gunship at your side.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Olympic Airways Aircraft Harassed

En Kripto blog reports that yesterday an Olympic Airways flight from Athens to Rhodes Island received was harassed by messages from a Turkish Navy warship. As the aircraft was on nearing its final approach it received two messages from the Turkish Frigate Gokceada which was in the wider area but within Turkish territorial waters. This happened at 10:15

The Turkish warship referred to the Olympic Airways aircraft as an unknown aircraft flying in a “hostile” fashion and ordered the aircraft to leave the area. An hour later, at 11:18, the Turkish warship made 3 more similar calls but there were no aircraft in the area at the time.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Serious Turkish Provocation against Greek Navy

A formation of 7 Turkish Air Force aircraft (4 F-16s and 3 F-4E Terminators) conducted a mock attack on the Hellenic Navy Frigate Salamis (F-455). The Turkish aircraft entered the Aegean between Chios and Lesbos Islands. The formation entered an area in which the Greek Navy was conducting the “Kataigis” exercise. At one point 2 of the 3 F-4E lowered their altitude and conducted a mock strafing run against the Greek frigate.

The Greek Navy frigate locked onto the Turkish aircraft during this incident and subsequently the Turkish fighters left the area. The incident can be considered as very serious and could lead to serious accidents happening.

Monday, June 7, 2010

ICAO Blunder Denied by Government

Several news outlets and blogs picked up on a story published by Eleftherotypia newspaper regarding a blunder committed by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to the article the Greek side neglected to respond to the International Civil Aviation Organisation on plans to abolish the need for military aircraft to file flight plans when flying over the Aegean Sea. Supposedly the Greek failure to reiterate its stance paved the way for Turkey to legally conduct these flights without the need to submit flight plans.

A spokes person for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has now stated that these allegations are not true and that the need for military aircraft to submit flight plans when flying in the Athens FIT stands.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Defence Procurement Review: Improving Operational Availability instead of New Weapons Purchases

The improvement of the operational availability of existing weapons systems has become the primary goal for the Armed Forces, according to head of the General Defence Staff General Giagos. The poor economic outlook of the country means decisions on the procurement of new weapons have to be delayed or scrapped altogether. This can affect the purchase of new fighter aircraft, frigates and armoured fighting vehicles. The newly revised 5 year defence procurement plan worth €8.5 billion is expected to contain programmes which on the one hand will focus on the improvement of logistical support for the better utilisation and increased readiness of existing equipment. An example of the dire situation facing the Armed Forces is an article by the newspaper Revelations (Aποκαλύψεις) which reported on the danger that the Greek fleet of Leopard 2 tanks could become immobilised due to the lack of lubricants. The revelation came a few days after the signing of an agreement to procure the necessary ammunition for these tanks.

One the other hand the procurement plan must focus on the modernisation and upgrading of existing systems. The following are examples of the most urgent programmes for the various branches of the military:

1. The upgrading of the 19 older AH-64A+ attack helicopters of the Army to the same level as the newer 12 AH-64D models which were recently accepted into service.

2. The Mid-Life Upgrade of the 4 MEKO-200HN frigates of the Hydra class. Weapons improvements are to include the replacement of the Phalanx CIWS with RAM (Rolling Airframe Missiles) and the upgrading of the main 5” gun to the Mod4 standard. This upgrade is deemed important as a result of Turkish efforts to change the power balance in the Aegean.

3. The upgrade of the existing fleet of third generation fighter aircraft of the Air Force. The existing 20 Mirage 2000 EGM/BGM are to be brought to the -5Mk2 standard and the F-16C/D Block 30 and Block 50 aircraft are to be brought to the Block 52+/Advanced standard. The Air Force has 4 subtypes of F-16 aircraft in service with two different types of engines which places a heavy burden on support and training.

Special emphasis must be given to the quick acceptance of the new Type 214 submarines, the completion of the NH-90 tactical helicopter deliveries and the issuing of a new tender for Maritime Patrol Aircraft. This last programme has a bearing on the problematic issue of Search & Rescue areas and also of the Navy’s anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Greek-Israeli Military Manoeuvres Cancelled

The Greek-Israeli Air Force Exercise “Minos 2010” was cancelled today on the orders of Greek PM Papandreou. The order comes as a result of Israel’s intervention in the “Gaza Flotilla” in which 19 people have reportedly been killed.

The military action by Israel is making headlines all over the world at the moment. Israel had warned that it would intervene and not allow the flotilla to reach Gaza.

The baffling part of this whole story is that the Greek side has been lured into this conflict by having people and ships join the Turkish NGO on their quest to do something which was sure to end in violence. The flotilla is widely seen as a political statement against Israel by Turkey. By cancelling the military exercise the government is taking a firm position against Israel and is effectively siding with Turkey on the issue. Why?

Friday, May 28, 2010

US & Israel...

...Wake up. Look at your so called allies...

Greek Coast Guard Prevents Greek Citizens from Raising the Flag on Greek Soil

Strategy-Geopolitics has posted a disturbing item which claims the Greek Coast Guard has prevented citizens from Northern Greece to raise the Greek flag on the Zourafa Rock in the Aegean. According to a confidential Coast Guard document which was leaked on the internet, the flag could not be raised due to the “danger of damage being caused to the lighthouse installation and its operation due to the rock’s morphology”.

Zourafa can be found at 6 nautical miles northeast of Samothraki Island and is a basic point for the delineation of Greece’s eastern borders. The Coast Guard has also forbidden fishing in this area. Greek fishermen that sail through the area are routinely harassed by the Turkish Coast Guard while Turkish fishermen can fish in the area undisturbed.

One problem facing the Zourafa rock is that it is slowly sinking into the sea. According to historical data of the Hellenic Navy’s Hydrographical Service the rock had a coastline of 465 metres. Today, some decades later, this has shrunken to just 32 metres.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Greek-Israeli Military Manoeuvres

The combined Greek-Israeli Air Forces Exercise “Minos 2010” started today. During the exercise, which will last until the beginning of June, Israeli F-15 and F-16 aircraft will be stationed at the 115th Combat Wing in Souda, Crete. The exercises will take place in the Ionian Sea, mainland Greece and the Aegean Sea.

The exercise will include aerial refuelling drills of Greek fighters from Israeli tankers. The Search and Rescue portion of the exercise has been postponed to a later date. This exercise will not feature any Israeli aircraft taking off from Israeli bases and attacking ground targets in mainland Greece. This was the case during the “Glorious Spartan” exercise in 2008, which lots of attention in the international press as it was seen as a rehearsal for an Israeli attack on Iran’ nuclear sites.


True Lies

During his recent visit to Athens Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan said, among other things, that Turkey doesn’t bomb other nations. A few days later the Turkish military attacked PKK positions in Northern Iraq.

In Case You Missed It...

... have a look over here. This is the latest edition of the online Fox2 Magazine. It’s full of info on interesting defence related topics. Browse through it online or download as a PDF. It’s 116 pages and it’s bound to keep you busy for a while.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Erdogan in Athens

There hasn’t been much to report on serious matters of defence lately except that Turkey is generating enormous tensions in the Aegean with Turkish exercises taking place near to Greek shores, Greek aircraft being threatened by Turkey while flying within Greek airspace or the Athens FIR etc. In short, the expected flare up of provocations meant to take advantage of Greece’s current vulnerable position. I would actually be more worried if Turkey behaved normally for a change and wasn’t being so aggressive.

Today’s rant won’t be about Greece’s appeasing reaction to all this or Turkey’s expansionist attitudes. This post is as a result of some of the ridiculously simplistic reporting I have seen in other European countries as a result of Erdogan’s visit to Athens. One report even said “Turkey and Greece bury the hatchet”. And I’m thinking: really? Two days ago Greek Air Force aircraft flying within Greek airspace were threatened by Turkish ships. How much more aggressive can you get without an all out war? Where do some of these reporters get their news from?

So let’s look at one of the areas of “cooperation” where Greece and Turkey “buried the hatchet”. Turkey has signed a protocol with Greece whereby it promises to take back 1,000 illegal immigrants per year, of the ones that illegally cross over from Turkey to Greece. Hang on; Turkey is already obliged to take back many more than that based on existing agreements, not only with Greece but the EU. Why do I feel someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes? Over a hundred thousand illegal immigrants cross over from Turkey into Greece each year. Furthermore, each time a Greek or FRONTEX patrol detects a group of illegal immigrants attempting to cross over into Greece the Turkish Armed forces mysteriously appear and start threatening these patrols, showing once more that the Turkish Armed Forces are involved in smuggling illegal immigrants.*

It would be refreshing to see a news story in the European press that actually gets the story right for once.

*Not surprisingly the threats against FRONTEX have temporarily stopped now that it’s Germany’s turn to supply FRONTEX with the means to carry out these patrols. Obviously the Turks are brave when it comes to smaller countries like Greece, Poland and Lithuania.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Project Northern Lights

The Hellenic Air Force announced that it conducted a live fire drill at the Swedish Vidsel range between the 8th and 17th of March 2010. During this exercise an AIM-120C7 AMRAAM missile was fired. The Air Force took part in this exercise with 2 F-16C Block 52+ from 337 Squadron based at the 110th Combat Wing in Larissa.

On their way to Sweden and back the aircraft used the Lechfeld airbase in Germany to refuel.

The results of the missile drill have not been announced.



Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Week at a Glance

Minister of Defence Venizelos in a speech hinted that the competition for the Air Force’s new Advanced Trainer Aircraft could be scrapped in order to save funds for the acquisition of new fighter aircraft. According to the minister a European initiative for pilot training could be the way forward. With this he means the Eurotraining programme which, if established, will probably be too late as the Greek Air Force’s T-2 trainer aircraft are already out dated and reaching end of life. See here.

The Greek Civil Aviation Authority approved a Turkish Search and Rescue Exercise in the Aegean. The exercise is to take place between the islands of Skyros, Lesvos and Psara. This area falls within the Athens FIR and the Greek area for responsibility for SAR operations. However, the Turkish side issued a NAVTEX saying: “SEARCH AND RESCUE (SAR) EXERCISE ON 29-30 APR 10,IN THE TURKISH SAR AREAS BOUNDED BY”. See here and here.

On the 22nd of Apil at midday an accident occurred with a Hellenic Air Force A-7E. The aircraft was struck by a bird while flying at an altitude of 3,000 feet. The impact destroyed the front left side of the canopy and injured the pilot. The pilot diverted to the Kalamata Air Training Base where he landed his aircraft. See here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hellenic Air Force Faces Severe Aircraft Availability Problem

Several articles have been written lately about the fact that the Greek Air Force is facing mounting problems with the availability of its combat aircraft. Poor planning and poor resource management have led to the Air Force’s two main types of fighter aircraft, the F-16 and Mirage 2000 fleet, being left without sufficient spares. On Saturday an article in “To Pontiki” newspaper mentioned that at this stage in time only 45% of Greece’s F-16 fleet is operational. Supposedly only 90 F-16 fighters are operational, out of a fleet of around 160.

Minister of Defence Venizelos is desperately trying to get about 160 to 170 million Euros released for the acquisition of vital spares. These spares should have been ordered years ago and follow on orders should have been carefully planned. The previous Minister of Defence, Meimarakis, bears a heavy responsibility in this matter as he neglected to tackle this issue when there was still time. Even if the contracts are signed today it will take a long time before availability will reach desirable levels.

The whole matter is outrageous on many levels. The Air Force is the first line of defence against Greece’s expansionist neighbour, Turkey. These fighter aircraft, training and infrastructure have cost the Greek tax payer billions. Their sacrifices are for nothing if the political leadership of the Ministry of Defence cannot keep the most self explanatory matters under control. It shows a total lack of disrespect for the tax payers and those chosen few having to scramble to intercept Turkish aggressors every day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

NATO Warship LIMNOS Disrupts Pirates

Greek warship HS LIMNOS, who is part of NATO’s counter piracy mission, codenamed OCEAN SHIELD, successfully intercepted and disrupted a pirate gang in the Indian Ocean yesterday.

The NATO warship had been on patrol to the north of the Seychelles when pirates in a large whaler towing 2 smaller skiffs, was spotted by a Swedish maritime patrol aircraft. As HS LIMNOS approached the vessel, the ship’s helicopter was launched and observed the pirates throwing weapons, ladders and other piracy equipment into the sea.
On arrival, the ship’s boarding party rapidly took control of the 10 pirates. A thorough search of the boats was then conducted to ensure the pirates could no longer pose a threat to merchant shipping in the area.

HS LIMNOS Operations officer, Lt P Sarantinos GRN said, “Being vigilant, decisive, and adaptive – these are the fundamental pillars of our operations in this area. NATO is determined to deter and disrupt the pirate threat and HS LIMNOS is ready to prove it, wherever and whenever it is required.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Today's Airspace Violations

DefenceNet reports that the Turkish Air Force entered the Aegean with 16 aircraft today. Of the 16 aircraft 8 were armed. The formations breached Greek airspace 4 times. The activity took place in the northern and central Aegean.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Macedonian Names of 14th Century reveal the Greek Character of Macedonia

Examination of Macedonian Names of 14th Century in the Themes of Thessalonike and Strymon reveals the Greek Character of Macedonia.

THE study of names can tell us a great deal about a society, for names are primarily a means of social identification. People identify themselves or are identified by others in ways which may reveal kinship patterns, migration movements, economic differentiation or social stratification, superstitious beliefs. Children may habitually be named after the paternal or maternal grandparents, after parents or Siblings. Names may show adherence to a religion or to superstition: the Byzantine parents who named their children Aporicto or Evreto (“rejected” and “founding”) were trying to deceive death, while a man named Prousenos testified to his parents’ nostalgia for a lost homeland in Asia Minor. Proper or family names which continue over more than one generation can show the interest of the family itself or of the state in identifying people over time.

The Byzantine peasants in Macedonia of the fourteenth century were commonly identified by a baptismal or given name and some other form of identification: a profession, an indication of geographical origin, a nickname, or an indication of relationship to someone else. Both the given names and the “family” names are of interest here.

Some names are very common. Men are often named Nikolaos, Demetrios, Konstantinos, Ioannes, Vasileios, Michael, Manouel, Stamates, Theodoros. Somewhat less frequent are the names Modestos, Nikephoros, Theiotokios, Kyriakos, Foteinos, Athanasios, Petros, Alexios, Stefanos, Xenos. Most of these, with the exception of Xenos, Alexios, Modestos and Foteinos, are also common modern Greek names. On the other hand, Evangelos and Eleutherios, which occur frequently in modern Greece, are rare in the fourteenth century.

Women were most often called Maria and Anna (as in modern Greece), Zoe, Arete, Chryse, Argyre, Kale, Theodora, Eirene, Xene, Eudokia, Elene, Georgia, and less frequently Vasilike, Ioannousa, Kyriakia, Rossana or Rossa, Siligno, Sophia, Foteine, Theophano, Stammatike, and Marina. The name Aikaterine, one of the commonest modern Greek names, is very rarely encountered.Some Christian names are very similar to those found among the peasants of the Morea in the same period. They fall into three categories:

(1) Those referring to God, the Virgin, and Christ;

(2) Saints’ names; and

(3) Those deriving from feasts of the Christian calendar.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More Airspace Violations

A total of 16 Turkish Air Force fighter aircraft violated Greek airspace today. Of these 16 aircraft 8 were armed. The aircraft entered the Athens FIR in two formations and breached Greek airspace 11 times. All Turkish aircraft were intercepted by the Greek Air Force.

On a related note, Turkish EU Chief negotiator Egemen Bagis, criticised Germany and France for selling military equipment to Greece at a time when Greece is facing such dire economic problems. Turkish politicians were quick to pick up on Greek politicians saying there should be mutual arms purchase reductions by Greece and Turkey.