A Greek F-16 fighter jet crashed as it was prepared to land at a military airport on the Peloponnesian peninsula on Thursday afternoon; its pilot is safe, as he managed to eject seconds before the crash.
Occurring in Andravida, around 3:30 pm, as part of a test flight, the F-16 belonging to the Greek Air Force crashed at the military airport in its approach to land. At the present time, rescue crews are rushing to the scene of the accident, while the causes of the crash are not yet clear.
The pilot of the aircraft was transferred to a military hospital in the capital Athens for precautionary checks.
Apart from French-made 40 Mirage 2000 warplanes, Greece operates a large number of American-made warplanes including over 150 F-16 jets and more than 30 updated F-4s.
Andravida Air Base is a military airport operated by the Hellenic Air Force in Elis, Greece, housing the 117th Combat Wing (117 Πτέρυγα Μάχης, 117 ΠΜ), and the Air Force’s Air Tactics Center (Κέντρο Αεροπορικής Τακτικής, ΚΕΑΤ).
Construction of the base began in 1955, with the first air detachment established there in June 1960. In March 1961, the detachment was transformed into the 117th Combat Group (117 Σμηναρχία Μάχης), comprising the F-84F-equipped 339th Fighter-Bomber Squadron.
In May 1969, the unit was upgraded to a full combat wing, and chosen to receive into service the F-4E Phantom fighters. This necessitated extensive reconstruction and upgrading of the existing facilities, and in 1973, 339th Squadron had to be relocated to the nearby Araxos Air Base. Among other infrastructure changes, a third runway and a weather radar were added by 1978.
The first F-4E aircraft arrived in April 1974, and deliveries were completed by the end of the year, allowing for the equipment of two squadrons: the returning 339th Squadron, now designated “339th All-Weather Squadron”, took up an interceptor role, and the 338th Fighter-Bomber Squadron. These two squadrons remain at Andravida under 117th CW to this day.
In 1975, the Weapons-Tactics School (Σχολείο Όπλων Τακτικής, ΣΟΤ) was established at Andravida, providing advanced courses on air tactics and electronic warfare. In addition, the 368th Applied Training Flight, of four Lockheed T-33, was formed at Andravida in December 1976 and operated until March 1989.
In 1983, the Weapons-Tactics School, along with the rest of the Air Force’s various advanced schools, which until then were scattered among a number of air bases and operated under different directorates, were consolidated in a single unit, the Air Tactics Center, a combat wing-level unit also based at Andravida.