June 4, 2003 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Yesterday, a Greek air force F-16 block 30 crashed into a field near Volos soon after takeoff on a training flight from the military base of Nea Anchialos. The pilot ejected safely.
Following a problem with the engine, the single-seater jet crashed two miles north of the base just after 1 p.m. Initial reports suggested that a bird was sucked into the fighter's air intake, causing engine failure.
The pilot, Captain Theodoros Pliatsikas, succesfully ejected and was picked up by an air force rescue helicopter.
It was the air force's first loss of the year, and the sixth of the initial 40 F-16 block 30
jets bought in the late 1980s. Together with the French Mirages 2000, the F-16s form the backbone of Greece
's fighter fleet that almost daily engages in aerial jousts with Turkish jets over the Aegean.
At the beginning of last month, the first six out of a total of 60 upgraded F-16s block 52
+ models arrived at the base of 115 Fighter Wing in western Crete. Another 30 are due to be delivered by Christmas, while the last 24 will arrive next April.