|Hellenic Air Force
Hellenic Air Force Seal
|Founded||1930 as a separate service,
Army Aviation established in 1911
|Role||National Defence & Air Superiority|
|Size||aprox. 33,000 personnel
8 types of air defence systems
|Part of||Hellenic Armed Forces|
|Patron||Archangels Michael and Gabriel|
"Always Dominate the Heights"
|Colors||Blue / White|
World War I
Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922)
World War II
Greek Civil War
Turkish invasion of Cyprus
|Chief of Air Force General Staff||Air Marshal Vasilios Klokozas|
|HAF Fin Flash|
|Attack||F-16, Mirage 2000, Mirage 2000-5 Mk2, F-4E Phantom II|
|Bomber||A-7 Corsair II|
|Fighter||F-16 Fighting Falcon|
|Interceptor||Mirage 2000, Mirage 2000-5 Mk2|
|Reconnaissance||Embraer E-99A, RF-4E, Pegasus II|
|Trainer||T-41, T-6 Texan II, T-2|
|Transport||C-27J, C-130, C-47, ERJ-135, Gulfstream V, Bell 212|
The Hellenic Air Force, abbreviated to HAF (Greek: Πολεμική Αεροπορία, Polemikí Aeroporía, literally "Military Aviation") is the air force of Greece. The mission of the Hellenic Air Force is to guard and protect Greek airspace, provide air assistance and support to the Hellenic Army and the Hellenic Navy, as well as the provision of humanitarian aid in Greece and around the world. The Hellenic Air Force includes approximately 33,000 active troops, of whom 11,750 are career officers, 14,000 are professional conscripts (ΕΠ.ΟΠ.), 7,250 are volunteer conscripts and 1,100 are women. During the period of monarchy, between 1911–1922 and 1935–1973, the force was known as the Royal Hellenic Air Force (Greek: Ἑλληνικὴ Βασιλικὴ Ἀεροπορία, Ellinikí Vasilikí Aeroporía). The motto of the Hellenic Air Force is the ancient Greek phrase Αἰὲν Ὑψικρατεῖν (Aièn Hypsikrateîn), "Always Dominate the Heights"), and the HAF ensign represents a flying eagle in front of the Hellenic Air Force roundel. The Hellenic Air Force is one of the three branches of the Hellenic Armed Forces.
The Hellenic Air Force was founded as an army aviation service in 1911 and has more than 90 years of history.
In 1911 the Greek Government appointed French specialists to form the Hellenic Aviation Service. Six Greek officers were sent to France for training, while the first four "Farman" type aircraft were ordered.All of the six graduated from the Farman school in Etampes near Paris,but only four served subsequently in aviation. The first civilian Greek aviator who was given military rank was Emmanouil Argyropoulos, who flew in a Nieuport IV.G. "Alkyon" aircraft, on February 8, 1912.
The first military flight was made on May 13, 1912 by Lieutenant Dimitrios Kamberos. In June, Kamberos flew with the "Daedalus", a Farman Aviation Works aircraft that had been converted into a seaplane, setting a new world average speed record at 110 km/h and the foundations of Naval Aviation. During September of the same year, the Greek Army fielded its first squadron, the "Aviators Company" (Λόχος Αεροπόρων). On October 5, 1912, Kamberos flew the first combat mission, a reconnaissance flight over Thessaly.This was the first day of the Balkan wars, and during the same day a similar mission was flown by German mercenaries in Ottoman service in the Thrace front against the Bulgarians.The Greek and the Ottoman mission flown during the same day are the first military aviation combat missions in a conventional war.As a matter of fact all Balkan countries used military aircraft and foreign mercenaries during the Balkan Wars.January 24, 1913 saw the first naval co-operation war mission worldwide, which took place above the Dardanelles. Aided by the destroyer Velos, first Lieutenant Michael Moutoussis and Ensign Aristidis Moraitinis flew the Maurice Farman hydroplane and drew up a diagram of the positions of the Turkish fleet, against which they dropped four bombs. This was not the first air-to-surface bombing in military history as there was a precedent in the Turkish Italian war of 1911 ,but the first recorded attack against ships from the air.
Initially the Hellenic Army and the Royal Hellenic Navy operated separate Army Aviation and Naval Aviation units. During the Balkan Wars, various French Henry and Maurice Farman aircraft types were in use. One of them, the Daidalos, was converted into a seaplane, and used for reconnaissance and bombing missions over the Ottoman naval base in the Sea of Marmara, one of the first such missions in the world. Naval Aviation was officially founded in 1914 by the then CinC of the Greek Navy, British Admiral Mark Kerr. Greek aviation units participated in World War I and the Asia Minor Campaign, equipped by the Allies with a variety of French and British designs.
In 1930 the Aviation Ministry was founded, establishing the Air Force as the third branch of the Armed Forces.Naval and Army aviation were amalgamated into a single service. In 1931 the Hellenic Air Force Academy, the Scholi Ikaron (Σχολή Ικάρων), was founded.
In 1939 an order for 24 Marcel Bloch MB.151 fighter aircraft was placed, but only 9 of the aircraft reached Greece, since the outbreak of World War II prevented the French from completing the order. The aircraft served in the 24th Pursuit Squadron (MD - Moira Dioxis) of the then Hellenic Royal Air Force.
During the Second World War, the RHAF successfully resisted the Italian invasion in 1940. On November 2, 1940 a Breguet 19 intercepted the Italian Mountaineers Division "Julia" while it was penetrating Pindos mountain range and moving on to occupy Metsovo. On March 1941 the Italian invasion was confronted successfully.During the Greco-Italian War the Hellenic Air Force shot down 64 enemy aircraft while another 24 were claimed, too. On April 1941, wehrmacht invaded Greece in order to assist her Italian allies. Almost the entire force was destroyed by the German Luftwaffe. Some aircraft managed to escape in the Middle East. The top ace of Hellenic Air Force was Andreas Antoniou with 5.5 victories.
The aircraft that managed to escape were five Avro Anson, one Dornier Do 22 and three Avro 626. The Hellenic aviation was rebuilt under the Ministry of Air Force based in Cairo. Three Hellenic squadrons were built, which were operating under the command of RAF. These squadrons were the 13th Light Bombing Squadron(with Avro Anson, Bristol Blenheim and Martin Baltimore as well as the 335 and 336 Fighting Squadrons( with Hawker Hurricane I and II and Spitfire V types ) . The Hellenic Squadrons in the Middle East took over a variety of missions, such as convoy patrols, antisubmarine search, offensive patrols, reconnaissance, attacks and interceptions of the enemy aircraft. In summer 1943 the Greek Squadrons participated in the attack against wehrmacht in the island of Crete. From May to November 1944 the Greek squadrons continued in Italy. Greek pilots operated with great success. Two of those pilots were Pilot Officer G. Tsotsos and Master Sergeant D. Soufrillas flying Spitfires credited with shooting down german Junkers 88 bombers. Seventy men were lost due to the fight for freedom.
During the World War II, Greek pilots who were flying with the colours of RAF achieved many victories. Wing Commander John Agorastos Plagis managed to shot down 17 enemy aircraft fighting over Malta and Western Europe. Flying Lieutenant Vasilios Michael Vassiliadis was credited with 11,5 enemy aircraft over Western Europe (killed in action on 15/03/1945 over Germany). Flying Officer Spiros Nicolaou Pisanos an immigrant to USA in 1938 , joined the 'Eagle Squadron' of RAF and fought over the Western European Theater. He joined later USAF and took the US citizenship to continue fighting with the same squadron that became by that time part of the USAF 4th FG. He achieved 10 victories with USAF until 1944.
After Greece's liberation in 1944, RHAF returned home and subsequently played a decisive role in the Greek Civil War, which lasted until 1949 , re-equipped with Spitfire IX , Spitfire XVI fighters and Curtiss Helldiver bombers .
After the end of the Greek Civil War, in November 1950, in order to assist the United Nations, Greece sent to South Korea seven C-47 Dakota aircraft of the 13th Transport Aircraft Squadron. The Greek Aircraft operated in Korea until May 1955. Greek pilots flew thousands of war missions such as air evacuations, transports of personnel, prisoners of war and every kind of material, drops of supplies and ammunition and collection of information.
In 1952 Greece was admitted to NATO and the Air Force was rebuilt and organized according to NATO standards, with US assistance. New aircraft, including jets, were introduced.
The F-84F first flew with the Hellenic Air Force in 1955. The Thunderstreak was developed to overcome the limitations of the Thunderjet's straight flying surfaces. The RF-84F was the reconnaissance version of the F-84 F Thunderstreak. This aircraft remained operational with the 348 Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the Hellenic Air Force from 1956 to March 29, 1991.
In the late 1960s the RHAF acquired new jet aircraft, that served well for almost 20 years. The main jets that entered the HAF fleet during this period were the F-104G Starfighter and later on, the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger (in service 1969-1975) and the F-5 Freedom Fighter.
In the mid 1970s Hellenic Air Force was further modernized with deliveries of the Dassault Mirage F1CG fleet, A-7H/TA-7H Corsair II and the first batch of F-4E Phantom II, upgraded versions of which still serve today.
Also in 1993, USAF delivered to Hellenic Air Force 62 A-7E/TA-7C. With these type of aircraft, the air to ground capabilities of Hellenic Air Force were increased. Some of the A-7s are still in service with the Hellenic Air Force, until the deliveries of 4.5 generation fighters.
Until the late 1980s the Air Force deployed Nike-Hercules Missiles armed with U.S. nuclear warheads. As a result of Greco-Turkish tensions around the 1974 Turkish invasion in Cyprus, the U.S. removed its nuclear weapons from Greek and Turkish alert units to storage. Greece saw this as another pro-Turkish move by NATO and withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure from 1974 to 1980.
In 1989 the first fourth generation fighters were introduced, marking the beginning of a new era: the first Mirage 2000 EG/BG aircraft were delivered to the 114 Combat Wing in Tanagra airforce base and equipped the 331 and 332 squadrons. In January 1989, the first F-16C/D Block 30 arrived in 111 combat wing in Nea Anchialos airforce base and were allocated between the 330 "Thunder" squadron and 346 "Jason" squadron in Larissa airforce base. These two squadrons have intercept roles.
In 1993 Peace Xenia II program begun. Due to Peace Xenia II program, Greece ordered 40 more F-16s, this time, the Block 50 version. From these aircraft 32 were F-16C and the other eight were F-16D. The first Block 50 was delivered on 25 July 1997, these new aircraft, equipped with the LANTIRN navigation and targeting pod as well as AIM-120 AMRAAM and AGM-88 HARM missiles, were allocated to the 341 "Aces" and 347 "Perseus" squadrons in Nea Anchialos airforce base.
Greece participated in NATO "nuclear weapons sharing" until 2001, using A-7 Corsair IIs to deploy tactical B61 nuclear warheads from Araxos Air Base. Greece then strategically decided to remove all nuclear weapons under storage in Greece and did not purchase any more aircraft with nuclear mounting capabilities.
In 1998 Greece decided in cooperation with the German Aerospace Industry (DASA) and Hellenic Aerospace Industry(EAB) to upgrade 39 F-4E Phantom II. After many problems, the first aircraft were delivered in Andravida Air Base, in December 2002. The upgraded aircraft are equipped with a new radar, mission control computer, Head Up Display, IFF Interogator, Multi Function Displays and are capable of carying a large variety of advanced Air To Air and Air To Ground weapons, including the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. These aircraft are called F-4E Peace Icarus 2000(PI2000) and are operating with the 338 Squadron "Ares" and 339 Squadron "Ajax based in Andravida Air Base in Multi-Role missions.
In the year 2000, Greece ordered 60 F-16C/D Block 52+ and 15 Mirage 2000-5Mk.2. The order for the F-16s was about 50 single-seat of the C version and 10 two-seat of the D version. Also Greece decided to upgrade 10 of its existing Mirage 2000EGs to Mirage 2000-5Mk.2 standards.
In September 2004 started the Mirage 2000BG/EG fleet upgrade to the standard 2000-5 Mk2 and the project was undertaken by the French manufacturer Dassault Aviation and the EAB. Fifteen new aircraft were delivered. The Mirage 2000-5Mk.2 has a new more powerful radar, improved Air To Ground capabilities including the SCALP EG Cruise Missile, new self-protection system, new Inertial Navigation System(INS), a Glass Cockpit and an air to air refueling capability.
In 2005, Greece was the first country worldwide to add the F-16 Block 52+ to its inventory. This advanced F-16 type is an improved version of the Block 50 featuring a more powerful radar, Conformal Fuel Tanks for bigger Ferry Range, advanced communications systems, upgraded engine, Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) and is capable of carying more advanced weapons, including the IRIS-T Air To Air missile. Three squadrons are operating with this type of F-16s. These squadrons are the 337 Squadron "Ghost" in Larissa air base, 340 Squadron "Fox and 343 Squadron "Star" in Souda air base.
In 2005 the Greek government ordered 30 more F-16C/D, 20 single seat and 10 double seat. These aircraft are called F-16C/D Block 52+ Advanced. The differences between the normal Block 52+ and Block 52+ Advanced, are that the Advanced version has, LINK 16 Communications System, more powerful Mission Control Computer, an extra Multi Function Display with a movable map navigation, advanced Debriefing System and the capability of carrying the RECCE Reconnaissance Pod. The first aircraft were delivered to Hellenic Air Force in May 2009 and they are flying with the 335 Squadron "Tiger" in Araxos air base.
Due to the retirement of units that have ended their operational life (A-7E Corsair II and F-4 Phantom II), the HAF should be looking forward to acquiring new 4th, 4.5th or 5th generation fighters in order to reach a total number of 300 advanced fighters, according to the Supreme Air Force Council "2007-2012 operational planning" study which was published in 2007. Possible candidates for a 4.5th or 5th generation aircraft are mainly the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, JAS 39 Gripen, F-35 Lightning II, and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. A pro-Russian lobby in Greece promotes the acquisition of Sukhoi Su-35 or Su-37.
In October 2008, Hellenic Air Force participated at the USAF's Red Flag exercise with excellent performance. Hellenic Air Force sent her F-16s Block 52+ of the 343 Squadron "Star". The results were impressive. Greek pilots achieved in total 18 "kills" against USAF Aggressors while suffering only 3 losses in air-to-air combats, during a mission of protecting a HVAA target with 4 aircraft against 12 USAF Aggressors fighters.
The Hellenic Air Force is overseen by the Hellenic Ministry of National Defence, whose head is minister Evangelos Venizelos. More specifically, HAF is directly overseen by the Hellenic National Defence General Staff.
The three commands are the Tactical Air Command (Αρχηγείο Τακτικής Αεροπορίας, ATA), headquartered at Larisa, the Air Support Command (Διοίκηση Αεροπορικής Υποστήριξης, ΔΑΥ) and the Air Training Command (Διοίκηση Αεροπορικής Εκπαίδευσης, ΔΑΕ), both based in Athens.
The Tactical Air Command includes eight Combat Wings and one Transport Wing. The Combat Wings have six fighter ground-attack squadrons. There are ten fighter squadrons, one regular reconnaissance squadron, and one marine reconnaissance squadron. Three transport squadrons and two helicopter squadrons form the organization of the air portion of the Tactical Air Command. The Air Training Command includes four training squadrons.
The eight major H.A.F. installations are located in Larisa, Nea Anchialos (west of Volos), Elefsis, west of Athens, Thessaloniki, Tanagra, north of Athens, Souda Bay, Araxos in the northern Peloponnese, and Andravida. Other airports supporting military operations are located in the Aegean Islands of Karpathos, Santorini (Thira), Rhodes, Skyros, and Lemnos as well as in Kavala, Heraklion, Ritsona and Tatoi/Dekeleia, north of Athens.
|Equivalent Title||Pilot Officer
or 2nd Lieutenant
or 1st Lieutenant
or Lieutenant Colonel
or Brigadier General
or Major General
or Lieutenant General
|Air Chief Marshal
|Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon||United States||Multirole Fighter||F-16C/D||159|
|Dassault Mirage 2000||France||Multirole Fighter||46|
|McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom||United States||Tactical Fighter/Reconnaissance||53|
|Vought A-7 Corsair II||United States||Attack Aircraft||A-7E/TA-7C||27||+ 14 ΤΑ-7 C|
|Total Combat Aircraft||285|
|Lockheed C-130B/H Hercules||United States||Transport||15|
|Embraer ERJ-135ER||Brazil||VIP Transport||2|
|EMB-145H AEW&C||Brazil||Airborne Early Warning & Control||4|
|Gulfstream V||United States||VIP Transport||G500||1|
|Total Transport Aircraft||34|
|Cessna T-41 Mescalero||United States||Trainer||T-41D||19|
|Beechcraft T-6 Texan II||United States||Trainer||45|
|Rockwell T-2 Buckeye||United States||Trainer||40|
|Total Trainer Aircraft||104|
|Lockheed P-3B Orion||United States||Maritime Patrol||P-3B||6|
|Total Maritime Patrol Aircraft||6|
|Canadair CL-215||Canada||Firefighting & SAR||CL-215||13|
|Bombardier 415||Canada||Firefighting & SAR||8|
|PZL M18B "Dromader"||Poland||Firefighting||23|
|Grumman G-164A Ag Cat||United States||Crop Dusting||G-164A||10|
|Total Firefighting Aircraft||54|
|Agusta A109 Hirundo||Italy||MEDEVAC Helicopter||A109||3|
|Eurocopter AS 332 Super Puma||France||CSAR & SAR Helicopter||AS 332C1||10||+15 on order|
|Agusta-Bell AB205||Italy||Multiple-role helicopter||AB205A||13|
|Agusta-Bell AB212||Italy||Multiple-role helicopter||AB212||4|
|Bell 47||United States||Crop Dusting||47G||7|
|EAB Pegasus II||Greece||Reconnaissance (RUAV)||E1-79||5||12 on order|
|Total Other Aircraft||6|
The camo extensively used by the Hellenic Air Force is the "Aegean Ghost" theme (Φάντασμα του Αιγαίου).
The worst accident in the history of the Hellenic Air Force occurred on 5 February 1991 when Lockheed C-130H Hercules 748 crashed into Mount Othrys during the landing approach to Nea Anchialos. Sixty-three people were killed.
Mirage 2000-5Mk.2 of the Hellenic Air Force.
TA-7C Corsair II at RIAT 2005
Hellenic Air Force Raytheon T-6A Texan II during CIAF in Brno.
CL-415 water bomber of 383 squadron.
C-130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft of 356 squadron.
Aircraft maintenance hangar of 335 Squadron, Araxos Air Base.
Formation of two P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft of 353 squadron over Athens, overflying the military parade of 2007-03-25.
T-2E Buckeye jet trainer of 120 Wing.