Greece - Hellenic Air Force
The mission of the Hellenic Air Force is to achieve air superiority, contribute to deterrence, conduct intensive and sustained air missions, secure the air defence of the country, and provide air protection. The Hellenic Air Force also supports the missions of other services of the Armed Forces, supports the civilian sector in civil emergencies and conducts peace-support missions and humanitarian aid missions, contributing, thus, to international peace and security. Air superiority is a modern defence tool against any crisis requiring demonstration of force, and is characterised by speed, flexibility and effectiveness. Air superiority provides the possibility to the country's Armed Forces to ensure the necessary control of the air space, a prerequisite of deterrence.
The Hellenic Air Force is expected to maintain air superiority, support land and naval operations, attack first- and second-echelon forces in Thrace (providing at the same time close air support for Greek land forces), neutralize amphibious forces in the Aegean, and strike at vital targets on the enemy's territory.
The Hellenic Air Force lists several critical objectives in fulfilling its mission. Development of a modern command, control, and information system will aid in crisis management by linking the air force with other branches and commands in allied countries in a timely manner. An upgraded early warning system is considered another high-priority element of communications, to provide time for decision making. A second requirement is the capability for immediate reaction to unforeseen threats; to achieve that goal, the air force is emphasizing interoperability and compatibility of armaments and suppression of enemy air defenses.
A third goal is improving mobility, especially considering the requirement for Greeces assigned participation in the ACE Rapid Reaction Corps in the NATO force structure of the 1990s. An important element of this requirement is improved air transport capability. A fourth goal is improving support of ground-force operations by using air transport to preposition ammunition and supplies. Finally, the development of air defense is considered critical to maintaining control of the air in the cramped airspace of the eastern Mediterranean Sea. In its combat doctrine, the Hellenic Air Force aims not at permanently establishing air superiority (a prohibitively expensive goal) but at being able to control air space at specific times and places.
The Air force General Staff (HAFGS) is the supreme command level of the service. The Chief, HAFGS, exercises full command and control over all the personnel and assets of the Air Force and is responsible for the air defence of the country.The mission of the Hellenic Tactical Air Force (HTAF), with headquarters in Larissa, is to maintain a high level of combat effectiveness and operational readiness of its forces, so as to contribute to the deterrence of any threat and to conduct, if necessary, air operations in accordance with the concept of air operations and the existing war plans.
The mission of the Air Support Command, with headquarters in Elefsis, is to program and monitor the maintenance of the equipment, to ensure quality-control, as well as to conduct air-transport, search-rescue, air applications, air evacuation, and air fire-fighting missions. The mission of the Air Support Command, with headquarters in Elefsis, is to program and monitor the maintenance of the equipment, to ensure quality-control, as well as to conduct air-transport, search-rescue, air applications, air evacuation, and air fire-fighting missions. The mission of the Air Training Command, with headquarters in Dekelia, is to program, monitor, evaluate and improve the training of the Air force personnel.
The eight major air force installations are located at Larisa, Nea Ankhialos southeast of Larisa, Eleusina west of Athens, Thessaloniki, Tanagra north of Athens, Souda Bay, Araxos in the northern Peloponnesus, and Andravida. Other airports supporting military operations are located on the Aegean Islands of Karpathos, Santorini (Thira), Rhodes, Skiros, and Lemnos, and at Kavala (Macedonia), Heraklion (Crete), and Tatoi/Dekelia, north of Athens.
Greek military experts believe that between 1987 and 1994 the air force achieved satisfactory turn-around time for service and repair of aircraft, elements that are complex given the diversity of fighter types in the present NATO inventory. All major airfields in the country now can provide quick repair of battle damage. Most training in aircraft repair work is carried out abroad. Flight and ground safety were improved in 1992 by the reorganization of the Hellenic Air Force General Staff to include a Flight Safety Directorate.
Turkey refused to sign the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982, which enshrines a 12 nautical mile (22 km) standard of territorial waters surrounding island territories. The current dispute in the Aegean is part of a struggle stretching back centuries, from the Ottoman capture of Constantinople in 1453, to centuries of Ottoman Turkish occupation of Greece, to multiple wars in the 19th and 20th centuries, to Turkey's invasion and occupation of northern Cyprus in 1974.
In 1995, Ankara threatened that an attempt by Athens to make good on the 12 nautical mile limit prescribed by the UN Treaty would constitute a cacus belli. Greece, for its part, condemned the Turkish ultimatum as a violation of the UN Charter. In 2015 alone, Turkey violated Greek airspace 1,375 times, with the transgressing aircraft armed and prepared for combat in 135 of those incidents.
On 15 February 2016, six Turkish fighter jets and a Navy transport plane violated Greek airspace over island territories in the eastern Aegean Sea nearly two dozen times. The reported airspace violations took place between the islands of Chios and Samos in the eastern Aegean, and between Lemnos and Lesbos, in the Sea's northeast. According to Greece's General Staff, Turkish aircraft violated Greek airspace 22 times in a period of 24 hours. Two of the Turkish planes were reported to be armed, and Greek military officials confirmed that two "virtual dogfights" took place between Turkish and Greek aircraft after Greek patrols intercepted the violators.
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