Turkey violated the airspace of Greece more than 10,000 times in the first eleven months of 2022, data from the Hellenic National Defence General Staff (GEETHA) show.
According to the data, there is an unprecedented record of Turkish violations against Greece’s airspace, by both fighter jets and UAVs. Since the month of August, violations exceeded the 1,000 mark each month. Their peak was the month of September with 1,802 recorded violations carried out by 259 Turkish jets
A worrying trend, as seen in the table below, is an increase in violations with armed jets and engagements with Greek interception fighters.
For example, in the month of November, there were 37 cases of Turkish armed aircraft violating Greek airspace, resulting in 42 engagements with Greek aircraft. Several of these engagements resulted in so-called dogfights, aerial battles between fighter aircraft conducted at close range.
In 2020, the year of the great crisis when Greece and Turkey came close to conflict in the Aegean, “only” 4,605 violations were recorded, less than half compared to this year.
While about a decade ago, in 2013, the violations were only 577. This increased to 1783 in 2019 when Ankara first unveiled the “Blue Homeland” vision.
New violations of Greek airspace by Turkey on Friday
The latest provocation from Turkey occurred on Friday when a trio of Turkish fighter jets violated Greek air space, flying over Panagia and Inousses islands in the North Aegean, GEETHA announced.
On Friday, a total of 13 Turkish F-16s – including 11 armed jets and a Turkish navy assistance CN-235 plane – entered the Athens FIR without submitting plans. Altogether 15 infringements of the Athens FIR were registered, which developed into violations of national air space over islands of the central and southeast Aegean.
All Turkish airplanes were recognized and intercepted by Greek fighter jets, according to international rules and practices, while in 7 cases the process of interception turned into a dogfight.
Earlier this year, Greece’s PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis briefed NATO on the upsurge in overflight violations by Turkey of its airspace in the eastern Aegean.
The Greek Premier announced that he spoke to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and briefed him on Turkey’s provocative behavior.
“I made it clear to Mr. Stoltenberg that this behavior is unacceptable by a NATO partner in the SE wing of NATO. Turkey, with such challenges, is undermining the unity of NATO, at a time when we must remain united,” Mitsotakis had said.
Menendez: Turkey challenges Greek sovereignty repeatedly
As the battle in the US Congress over the proposed sale of new F-16 fighter jets to Turkey heats up, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, recalled recently that Turkish President Erdogan has challenged Greek sovereignty repeatedly by sending fighter jets over the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.
He also slammed Erdogan who recently threatened a missile strike on Athens.
“Now we have started to make our own missiles,” the Turkish President said during a speech last week in Samsun in northern Turkey. “Of course, this production scares the Greeks. When you say ‘Tayfun,’ the Greek gets scared and say, ‘It will hit Athens.’ Well, of course, it will.”
Tayfun, which is Turkish for “typhoon” is a short-range ballistic missile developed by Turkey.
Referring to Erdogan’s threat to hit Athens Menendez said: “This is a NATO member—directly threatening to target Athens, a city of three million civilians. According to the United Nations—an intentional attack on civilians is a war crime.
“His threats to strike Athens fit a pattern of Turkish claims to what is Greek territory. He has said Turkish forces may land in Greece ‘suddenly one night.’”