The Hellenic National Defence General Staff announces that on 23 May 2006, at 12.45 hours, a Greek and a Turkish military aircraft collided in mid air, 21 naval miles south-east of Karpathos island, inside the Athens FIR.
A Turkish Airforce formation, consisting of one RF-4 and two F-16 aircraft entered the Athens FIR, without having submitted flight plans, and headed towards the region north of Crete island, thus violating air traffic regulations. A Hellenic Airforce formation comprising of two F-16 aircraft, according to the provisions of ICAO, and in order to secure International Aviation, set out to reconnoitre the unknown radar tracks.
During reconnaissance procedure manoeuvres, a Hellenic and a Turkish F-16 aircraft collided at a hight of 27 thousand feet and both aircraft crashed in the sea.
The National Search and Rescue Center (EKSED) was immediately mobilised. Multiple means (planes, helicopters and Navy/Coast Guard vessels) reached the area of accident, within the Athens FIR and started the search and rescue operation for both pilots, according to ICAO provisions.
The merchant vessel “Gas Century” sailing in the area, under the flag of Panama, and of Japanese interests (company Yamamaru) recovered the Turkish pilot, in international waters, south of Karpathos island, while at the same time a Hellenic Airforce Super Puma helicopter arrived in the area.
The Greek rescue personnel, along with the captain of a Coast Guard vessel, which also arrived in the region, boarded the merchant ship, to provide medical support to the Turkish pilot, who denied any assistance, claiming he was in good physical condition. Following a request of the Turkish side, a Turkish helicopter, which arrived in the region later, was allowed to recover the Turkish pilot.
Search and Rescue operation to locate the Greek pilot is ongoing.
LTC Gerasimos Kalpogiannakis