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
                                    HNDGS Spokesman