Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Fun with high-performance jets

It is reported that tension on the airspace boundary between Greece and Turkey has been hotting up, with some 160 violations of the Athens Flight Information Region last month. Last Wednesday, apparently, there were some 33 interceptions of Turkish aircraft by the Greeks. That's a lot of that curious Cold War modern jousting, last-minute QRA dashes to scramble for a fake confrontation.

Why the Turks (if this is not a Greek-biased story) would crank up this pressure is unclear - the report connects it with their application to join the EU, but that makes no sense at all.

The Aegean sky was, back in the last really serious crisis in 1996, the scene of a rare incident. An F-16 was shot down in air-to-air combat - not something that the Fighting Falcon's manufacturers like to accept. It's fortunately rare that the ultra-latest western types come into conflict, but back then a two-seat variant of the F-16 engaged in action. The combat began with a pair each of Turkish F-16s and Greek Mirage 2000s, but during the high-G manoeuvring the pairs split up. The Greek Mirage 2K got inside its opponent's turn, closed in and launched a French Magic missile - a hit. The F-16 was destroyed. The crew survived, though - which very possibly annoyed the Turkish government more than anything else, for one of them was an Israeli officer attached to the Turkish air force.

That might have been covered up, if he hadn't been taken to a hospital in the middle of Istanbul to recover - from where he vanished...

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