Greece has denied claims by Turkey that Greek S-300 surface-to-air missiles locked on to Turkish F-16 fighter jets carrying out a reconnaissance mission in international airspace.
On Sunday, citing sources in the Turkish Defense Ministry, the country’s state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency, reported that the radar of the Russian-made Greek S-300 missile system based on the island of Crete locked onto the Turkish jets.
According to the Anadolu report citing Turkish defense sources, the incident took place on August 23rd when Greece’s S-300 missile system put a lock on Turkish F-16 jets flying at ten thousand feet west of Rhodes.
That was “incompatible with the spirit of [NATO] alliance” and amounted to “hostile acts” under the NATO rules of engagement, the sources added.
“Despite this hostile action, [Turkish jets completed their planned missions and returned to their base safely,” it was said.
Greece says that the S-300 system never put a lock on Turkish jets
Greek military sources dismissed the report later on Sunday.
“Greece’s S-300 missile system has never put a lock on Turkish F-16 jets”, the sources said, according to state-run ERT television.
“Interceptions are carried out by our military aircraft in line with international rules of engagement,” the same sources added.
The Republic of Cyprus originally ordered those S-300s on Crete back in the mid-1990s. They were ultimately diverted to Greece after Turkey threatened to preemptively destroy them if they ever arrived on the divided island. Greece put them in storage and later test-fired them in 2013 for the first time.
Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos ruled out the prospect of Greece transferring its S-300s to Ukraine in early June, proclaiming that Greece faces “a real threat” and would not transfer “what we need, what is useful, and mainly operationally active.”
In recent months, Turkey has complained of what it calls provocative actions by Greece, saying such moves undermine peace efforts. Athens accuses Ankara of overflights on Greek islands.