May 23, 2006 (by GrRihno) - Two fighter jets, a Greek (#514) and a Turkish F-16, collided in mid-air Tuesday over the southern Aegean Sea. The Turkish pilot was saved by a civilian ship. Reportedly, the Greek pilot has not survived the accident.
HAF F-16C flying over the Aegean. [Photo by John]
Just before 13.00h local time on Tuesday, a pair of Greek F-16 was scrambled to intercept a pair of Turkish F-16 jets escorting an RF-4E Phantom recce plane over the Aegean Sea.
After the intercept, the fighter jets were maneuvering around each other in a mock dogfight. During the course of this, two F-16s collided and subsequently crashed.
The crash happened around 13.00h (6 a.m. ET) about 12 miles off the coast of the Greek island of Karpathos. The collision was witnessed by an EgyptAir airplane that was passing by.
The Turkish pilot Lt Halil Ibrahim Özdemir ejected safely and was saved by a freighter under Panamanian flag, but refused to board a Greek SAR
helicopter. The Greek pilot has reportedly not survived the accident. Greek Super Puma and Turkisch Cougar SAR helicopters have been dispatched to the area.
F-16 was an F-16C block 50
from 192 Filo (based at Balikesir) that took off from Dalaman, and was part of a two-ship formation escorting an RF-4E towards Crete. The Greek aircraft was an F-16C block 52
regularly accuse each other of trespassing into each other's airspace, and the subsequent intercepts regularly result in mock dogfights between warplanes over the Aegean sea.
Greece's defense ministry claims it daily scrambles several fighters to intercept Turkish aircraft that it says have invaded its airspace.
Geece and Turkey came close to war in 1996 but have considerably improved relations since then. However, the territorial disputes about the Aegean Sea and over the divided island of Cyprus remains unresolved.