Wednesday, according to Greek media outlets, Greek and Turkish jets engaged in a brief dogfight over the Aegean Sea. This comes after Turkish aircraft violated Greek airspace several times. Greek defense officials report a formation of six Turkish jets, flanked by two CN-235 aircraft that were not in formation, violated Greek air space nine times. In all cases the Turkish jets were chased off by Greek aircraft. Two of the eight Turkish aircraft were armed.
According to the Independent UK, there haven’t been any violations since early December following a diplomatic spat between the two nations over the region. Greece claims 10 miles of airspace around a group of Greek islands along the Turkish west coast and Turkey recognizes only six.
We are reminded that Turkey is no stranger to to aerial conflict. After months of back and forth repartee between Ankara and Moscow regarding alleged Russian invasions into Turkish airspace, Erdogan finally “went there” on November 24 when Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian Su-24 near the border with Syria. One of the two pilots was killed.
Turkey, however, seems to have a blind spot when it comes to their own hypocrisy. According to the University of Thessaly (whose statistics are based on the Greek military’s tally), there were 2,244 violations of Greece’s airspace by Turkish jets in 2014 alone, representing an increase of some 250% from 2013.
Monday, Sputnik the Russian news agency published a report attributed to the Greek website pronews.gr which revealed that Greece has rejected announcements from Ankara, which seeking to restrict flights over Greek islands in the Aegean Sea for 12 months so that Turkey can carry out military training, according to chaniapost.eu.
A NOTAM is a notice filed with an aviation authority that alerts aircraft pilots to potential hazards in an area which could affect the safety of a flight. Ankara issued NOTAM Α5885/15, Α5884/15 and Α5881/15, which announced restrictions on aviation in the northern, central and southern areas of the Aegean Sea on December 23.
The Athon peninsula in the northern Aegean and the Greek islands of Lemnos, Patmos, Tinos, Mykonos and Skyros among others is the area Turkey wanted to use. It should be noted that Skyros is among the sites where Greece has a Patriot anti-aircraft missile system installed, while the northern Aegean contains valuable Greek oil and gas reserves, Sputnik noted. In response, the Greek aviation authority issued NOTAM A2642/15, A2641/15 and A2640/15, which asserted that only Greece has the right to issue an announcement that restricts Greek airspace.
Turkey’s attempt to restrict airspace has also interfered with the R19 and L995 international aviation corridors, as well as Greece’s internal air traffic, the aviation authority stated. “The coordinates given by Ankara cover a region over which Greece has national sovereignty,” said Athens. Turkey’s attempt to restrict airspace has also interfered with the R19 and L995 international aviation corridors, in addition to Greece’s internal air traffic.
According to international regulations, the only competent authority for issuing such notices is the Greek Civil Aviation Authority. Turkey’s move is in essence “splitting” the Aegean Sea in half, while it also intrudes into Greek airspace, interferes with traffic to two regional airports and affects two international traffic routes.