A formation of two Turkish RF-4Es – tactical reconnaissance aircraft – apparently entered the Athens FIR yesterday flying over the Greek island of Megisti (Kastelorizo), at only 300 meters, in what seems to be one of the most serious incidents yet. Reports said that the pilots of these Turkish photo-reconnaissance aircraft photographed military facilities on the island.
More exactly, a report on defencenet said that the aircraft photographed over 150 photos (more than 60 images per minute) and what is more, one the planes split from the pack to snap a few photos from a specific corner at the airport.
The article on defencenet poses two questions: Where the Turkish aircraft acting alone or were they accompanied by an F-16 for protection? So far, it says, there is no information to indicate that there were F-16 accompanying the Turkish planes, but it is paradoxical that the RF-4Es were moving on their own, since missions of these sorts are always escorted by F-16s.
The next question would be, was the Greek side aware of this latest provocation? They were. The Greek side had information 20-30 minutes about Turkey’s intentions before the whole affair occurred but was not able to dispatch its war planes on time to chase away the Turkish planes.
So what was the purpose of the whole mission? Clearly, Turkey was sending a message because these specific planes did not have to drop to 300 meters to do what they set out to do. In the opinion of military analysts on defencenet they just wanted to send the message to Athens that Turkey can come and go whenever or wherever it wants and even drop to 300 meters and “you (Greece) have no time to react.”
Indeed the two Greek F-16s, which took off from Kastelli, to chase out the Turkish planes did not arrive on time because the entire intervention over the island, especially over the airport took less than a minute.