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TWO SIDES OF THE AEGEAN MILITARY BALANCE OF TURKISH & GREEK AIR FORCES IN THE REGION

Issue 101

The tension between Turkey and Greece in the Eastern Mediterranean has escalated rapidly in recent days. When the sea and airspace problems from the past were added to the maritime jurisdiction problem, the situation became even more critical. The new hydrocarbon deposits discovered in the Eastern Mediterranean have also been a major factor in the emergence of these problems. Greece's theses will deprive Turkey of these resources and, worse, confine Turkey to the shores and turn it into a completely landlocked country. If Turkey accepts these theses of Greece, it could have serious consequences that endanger the country's sovereignty. Not favoring dialogue, Greece's attitude puts the two countries' relations in a perilous situation. The naval and air elements of both countries come face to face every day in a narrow space. The downside is that Greece's past is full of unacceptable actions in times of crisis. On October 8, 1996, a Turkish Air Force F-16D Block 40 aircraft (91-0023), which was conducting an unarmed training flight in the Aegean, was shot down in international airspace south of Chios by a Greek Air Force Mirage 2000EG aircraft belonging to the 331st Squadron from Tanagra Air Base. The pilot of the aircraft, Captain Nail ERDOĞAN, was martyred in the incident, and Lieutenant Colonel Osman ÇİÇEKLİ escaped via the ejection seat. Unfortunately, ERDOĞAN's remains still lie in the depths of the Aegean Sea. On May 23, 2006, a Greek Air Force F-16C Block 52+ aircraft (99-1514) belonging to the 343rd Squadron, which took off from the Souda Air Base in Crete to intercept Turkish F-16s, lost control during the dogfight and collided with the TurAF F-16C Block 50 (93-0686) aircraft of the 192th Squadron. Unfortunately, both planes crashed. In the accident, the Turkish pilot managed to escape via the ejection seat, but the Greek Pilot, Captain Konstantinos ILIAKIS, did not survive. As can be seen from these examples, an escalation may be closer than we expected. In these two incidents, the Turkish side maintained its calm and sanity, but if a similar incident occurs, things can go wrong, and a small mistake can turn into a grave conflict. If we look at the inventory and structure of the region's two powerful Air Forces:

Greek Air Force Strength

According to open sources, the Greek Air Force operates 229 combat aircraft including 32 F-16C/D Block 30, 38 F-16C/D Block 50, 54 F-16C/D Block 52+, 30 F-16C/D Block 52+ Advanced, 18 Mirage 2000BG/EG, 24 Mirage 2000-5 BG/EG and 33 F-4E AUP. These aircraft are deployed to six main bases (Larissa, Nea Aghialos, Souda, Araxos, Andravida, and Tanagra) and three forward bases (Skyros, Lemnos and Kastelli). 

F-4E Phantom II

Having purchased 121 F/RF-4Es (84 F-4Es and 37 RF-4Es) in total, Greece received its first aircraft in March 1974. While 56 of the 84 F-4Es were new production aircraft ordered under the Peace Icarus I and II projects, 28 of them were purchased from the US Air Force second hand within the scope of Southern Wing Aid. In 1997 Greece modernized 38 F-4E aircraft under the Peace Icarus 2000 modernization program (AN/APG-65 radar, GEC-Marconi HUD, GPS/INS, and cockpit MFDs). The aircraft were also upgraded with LITENING targeting pods and AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile launch capability. Following modernization, the aircraft were renamed F-4E AUP (Avionics Upgrade Program). After the retirement of RF-4Es in 2017, there are 33 F-4E AUPs still in service, but we can say that this figure is in actuality lower. 

Mirage 2000 

Greece ordered 36 single-seat Mirage 2000EGs and 4 two-seat Mirage 2000BGs in 1985, and the deliveries of the aircraft began in 1988. Ordering their first F-16s in the same period, the Greek Air Force continued its policy of purchasing combat aircraft from different sources, which was started with Mirage 2000, Mirage F1/F-4, and F-5. Another reason for this choice is Greece's desire to have another aircraft than Turkey's combat aircraft. F-4, F-5, and F-16 pilots flying against each other had the advantage of using the same plane as their rivals. It was easier to take precautions and countermeasures because the capabilities and capacities of both the aircraft and the munitions they used were the same; however, with Mirage 2000, they would have an advantage over their Turkish rivals. Mirage 2000s are mainly used for interception missions and Tactical Air Support for Maritime Operations (TASMO). Greece has 18 Mirage 2000BG/EG aircraft with AM39 Exocet launch capability, which pose a serious threat to the Turkish Navy. By the 2000s, Greece ordered 10 more Mirage 2000-5EGs and 5 more Mirage 2000-5BG aircraft and decided to upgrade the existing 10 Mirage 2000EG planes to the Mirage 2000-5EG level. Under this agreement, 56 SCALP EG cruise missiles were also ordered, and this was followed by 34 more SCALP EG orders in 2003. Mirage 2000-5 BG/EGs are not capable of carrying AM39 Exocet missiles. 

F-16C/D Fighting Falcon 

The Greek Air Force ordered 40 F-16C/D Block 30s under the Peace Xenia-I project in 1987. The delivery of the planes was completed between 1989-1990. These planes were followed by 40 F-16C/D Block 50 under the Peace Xenia-II project, which were received by Greece between 1997-1998. With the 24 AN/AAQ-13 Navigation Pods and 24 AN/AAQ-14 Targeting Pods purchased with Block 50s, the Greek Air Force's night attack capability has increased significantly. Another capability that comes with Block 50s is the ability to conduct SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defense) missions with AGM-88 HARM missiles. The 341st "Arrow" Squadron was reformed in 1998 with the F-16 Block C/D 50 employing the Suppression of Enemy Air Defense role (SEAD). In 1999, 50 F-16C/D Block 52+ were ordered under the Peace Xenia-III project with an option of 10 more, which were exercised in 2004. These aircraft were delivered between 2002-2004. With this project, the Greek Air Force also adopted a new engine for the F-16s. While General Electric F110-GE-100 engines were used in Block 30s, and F110-GE-129 engines were used in Block 50s, Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-229 engines were selected for Block 52+ aircraft. This selection, which seems to be a logistical nightmare, was actually a logical decision for the Greek Air Force. It is the continuation of Greece's policy of purchasing equipment from different sources, whether in air platforms or munition types, like the F-16/Mirage 2000, Sidewinder/Magic, AMRAAM/MICA examples. We should consider these procurements as a continuation of this policy. Greece also considered the EF-2000 Eurofighter Typhoon; however, this purchase was not realized due to economic reasons. To meet the requirement, Greece continued with the F-16 and signed the Peace Xenia IV project in 2005 for 30 F-16C/D Block 52+ Advanced. The planes were delivered between 2009-2010. F-16C/D Block 52+ and 52+ Advanced were purchased with CFT (Conformal Fuel Tanks). The CFT allows for the carrying of 450 gallons of fuel, and the aircraft still retains 9g capability. CFTs provide a 1,650km combat radius with about a 50% increase in internal fuel. This equates to about 40% more range than F-16s without CFTs. This provided a significant boost for the Greek Air Force, which does not have Aerial Refueling capability. Some of these planes replaced the retired A-7 Corsair IIs. The main avionic difference between the two F-16 models is that 52+ Advanced has Link-16 capability. 

All Greek F-16s have ASPIS (Advanced Self-Protection Integrated Suite) electronic warfare equipment, and all F-16s except Block 30s are equipped with the AN/APX-113 AIFF (Advanced Identification Friend-or-Foe) system. 

Since both the worn-out airframes of Block 30s and their capabilities cannot meet the current needs of today’s battlefields, Greece wanted to upgrade these planes with the F-16C/D Block 50 aircraft and negotiated with Lockheed Martin for CCIP (Common Configuration Implementation Program) avionics modernization. However, the project was later canceled due to economic reasons. 

In 2017, Greece started the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) process with the USA to upgrade its 84 F-16C/D Block 52+/52+ Advanced aircraft to the F-16V "Viper" level. The central element of this modernization is the Northrop Grumman AN/APG-83 SABR (Scalable Agile Beam Radar). Another important feature of the F-16V configuration is the CPD (Center Pedestal Display). The high-resolution 6 x 8-inch screen allows the pilot to take full advantage of the radar and targeting pod (TGP) data. Viper configuration also includes a new data link, data processing & communication systems, and a new generation helmet-mounted display system (JHMCS II). Another capability that comes with the Viper is the Auto GCAS (Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System). Thanks to this system, if the pilot passes out due to a High-G maneuver, or when the plane gets out of control and loses altitude due to disorientation, the aircraft performs a rescue maneuver without the pilot's intervention to prevent a collision. With the new radar, avionics, secure data link, and electronic warfare systems, Viper will be at the level to operate jointly with fifth-generation aircraft. 

Turkish Air Force Strength

According to open sources, the Turkish Air Force operates 266 combat aircraft, including 36 F-16C/D Block 30, 100 F-16C/D Block 40, 71 F-16C/D Block 50, 29 F-16C/D Block 50+ and 30 (+/-) F-4E/2020. These aircraft are deployed to six main bases (Eskişehir, Konya, Merzifon, Bandırma, Diyarbakır ve Balıkesir) and two forward bases (Dalaman ve Malatya). 

F-4E Phantom-II

Contract negotiations with the USA started in February 1972 and were completed in a short time, and the Peace Diamond-I project was launched within the same year. A total of 40 F-4E Phantom IIs were ordered, and the aircraft were delivered between 1974-1975. As part of the Peace Diamond-II Project, 32 F-4E Phantom IIs and 8 RF-4E Phantom II aircraft were ordered, which were delivered under the Peace Diamon II between 1978-1979. Under the Peace Diamond-III Project, 15 F-4E Phantom II aircraft were supplied from the Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) in the USA from July 1981 to April 1984. Within the scope of the Peace Diamond-IV Project, 15 ex-USAF F-4E aircraft were purchased between 1984-1985 to replace the losses of the four Phantom squadrons. These planes were followed by 40 ex-U.S. Air National Guard Aircraft F-4E Phantom II aircraft within the Peace Diamond-V Project in 1987. Under the Peace Diamond VI Project, 40 ex-U.S. Air National Guard F-4E aircraft were received between 1991-1992. Under the Kaan project, Turkey purchased a total of 46 ex-Luftwaffe RF-4E aircraft, which became surplus after the unification of East and West Germany in 1990 and the end of the Cold War. While 12 of the planes were purchased as spare parts, 34 RF-4Es underwent an extensive upgrade by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) before delivery. The deliveries began in 1992 and were completed in 1994. By the mid 1990sTurkey decided to upgrade some of the existing F-4E Phantom II aircraft with a comprehensive modernization project to increase their service life for at least 20 more years. Turkey reached an agreement with IAI and signed a contract with the company in 1997 for the extensive modernization of 54 F-4E Phantom-IIs. In this context, in addition to the structural improvements, the aircraft were upgraded with EL/M-2035 X-band Pulse-Doppler multi-mode radar with SAR/GMTI (Synthetic Aperture Radar/Ground Target Moving Indicator) capability, Mil-STD 1553B data bus, heads-up display (HUD), and three Multi-function Displays (MFD) were added to the cockpit, one in the front seat and two in the rear seat. The aircraft were also fitted with Mikes ALQ-178[V]3 RWR and ELTA EL/L-8225 ECM pods. With this modernization, the aircraft were renamed F-4E/2020. The most significant advantage of these aircraft is that locally produced munitions can be used without any restrictions. As the strike force of the Turkish Air Force (TurAF), around 30 F-4E/2020 aircraft are still operational with the 111th “Panter” (“Panther”) Squadron. 

F-16C/D Fighting Falcon 

In December 1983, a Letter of Acceptance (LOA) was signed between the Turkish Air Force and the U.S. Air Force for 160 F-16 aircraft. With the agreement called Peace Onyx-I, the first 8 aircraft would be manufactured at General Dynamics Fort Worth facilities, while the remaining 152 (136 F-16C and 24 F-16D) would be manufactured at TUSAŞ facilities. 160 F-16C/D Block 30 and 40 aircraft purchased between 1987-1994 are fitted with the General Electric F110-GE-100 engine. The aircraft are equipped with the AN/ALQ-178(V)3 electronic warfare system. In 1993, 40 AN/AAQ-13 Navigation Pods and 20 AN/AAQ-14 Targeting Pods were purchased. In 1997, 20 more targeting pods were purchased. Thus, the two F-16 Squadrons of the Turkish Air Force gained night attack and low altitude navigation capability. 

The Peace Onyx-II program started in March 1992, and 80 F-16C/D Block 50 aircraft were received between 1996-1999. The Block 50 aircraft were also fitted with the General Electric F110-GE-100 engine. In September 1998, the 151st Squadron was activated at the 5th Main Jet Base with its Block 50 aircraft, and the first Squadron of the Turkish Air Force became operational. With the Peace Onyx-III program, studies began in 2003 for the mid-life upgrade of the F-16s. In this context, a program similar to the Common Configuration Implementation Program (CCIP) of the US Air Force was prepared for F-16 aircraft. The project aimed to modernize Block 40 and 50s to meet current needs and to eliminate the differences between the Blocks. While the CCIP project was continuing, 30 F-16C/D Block 50+ were ordered under the Peace Onyx-IV program to replace the planes lost due to accidents. With the CCIP program, the Turkish F-16s were upgraded to the level of Block 50+ jets. AGM-154A, AGM-154C, AGM-84K SLAM-ER, AIM-9X, and AIM-120C-7 were purchased for use on the PO-III and PO-IV aircraft. In addition to these munitions, 30 AN/AAQ-33 Sniper Targeting Pods, 30 AN/AAQ-13 LANTIRN ER navigation pods, and 20 ASELPODs were also purchased. Unlike the PO-III, the PO-IV aircraft are equipped with the AN/ALQ-211(V)4 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS). These aircraft are also equipped with CFT and feature a Dorsal Spine. In this way, the AN/ALQ-211(V)4 can be carried internally, allowing the aircraft to be used for combat missions. Unlike other F-16C/D planes in the Turkish Air Force inventory, Block 50+ aircraft are painted with a special radar-absorbing (RAM) paint called Have Glass II, which reduces the plane's radar cross-section. For the 19 F-16D Block 50, 13 F-16D Block 40, and 8 F-16D Block 30 aircraft that are in the Turkish Air Force inventory and do not have an active Electronic Warfare system, a total of 42 (in two batches) Exelis AN/ALQ-211(V)9 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS) pods were procured via the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) channel.

Air Power Multiplier: Logistics-Command Control Capability & Training and Combat Readiness Level

As we can see, there are two Air Forces that are numerically close to each other. In a possible conflict, support elements of these aircraft, command control (C2) capability, training, and combat readiness levels will be the determining factors as well as the number of aircraft. 

Command & Control (C2) infrastructure have become more critical than ever in today's battlefield air operations. Detecting and identifying enemy elements from as far as possible is extremely important for the successful interception of hostile aircraft. Every country aims to keep its airspace under control with its radar network to protect itself as much as possible; therefore, they set up fixed radar stations at strategic points around the country. Fixed radars are relatively easy to destroy because their locations are known, so mobile radars and airborne early warning aircraft are used as a precaution. The fixed and mobile radars that Greece has installed on dozens of islands in the Aegean and the Mediterranean allow early detection of threats against the mainland. When Southern Cyprus decided to buy the S-300 missile system from Russia, the Turkish response was not just because of the system's long-range engagement capability. Thanks to the radar systems of the S-300, Greece would be able to see the airspace deep into Anatolia. This capability posed a greater threat than the missiles themselves. In addition to land-based radars, another important capability of Greece is the EMB-145H Airborne Early Warning and Command Control aircraft.

On the other hand, Turkey keeps its preparations against Greece's attacks at the highest level with its radar network. Turkey procured E-7T Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft to offset its land-based radars' vulnerabilities. 

These planes can detect and identify targets from very long distances with their radar and Electronic Support (ES) system. The E-7T can provide a "big picture" of both the airspace and maritime environment and transfer it to the relevant command centers via Link-16 Tactical Data Link (TDL). Turkey's most significant advantage in terms of Airborne Early Warning is the 236 F-16s with Link-16 TDL capability, while Greece has only 30 F-16 Block 52+ Advanced aircraft with this capability. Additionally, there is a considerable difference between the two countries' AEW&C aircraft in terms of capabilities and endurance. The Turkish Air Force E-7T aircraft can continue its mission for an extended period thanks to its Aerial Refueling capability. The Turkish Air Force has witnessed the effectiveness of the Airborne Command and Control system in combat through its experiences in Syria. The E-7T AEW&C can detect the enemy aircraft and hostile air defense systems with its radar and Electronic Support (ES) system and transmit this information to friendly elements via the Link-16 TDL. In this way, the F-16 pilot can see the position of enemy elements even if they are out of radar range and commence an attack or evasive maneuver according to this information. Another issue experienced in these operations was the effectiveness of land-based Electronic Attack (EA) systems. The Turkish Air Force has placed great importance on Electronic Warfare (EW) for many years and has invested in training and equipment in this regard. Thus, at the end of the 1990s, TurAF Squadrons traveled to Israel and started joint training with the Israeli Air Force. The TurAF participated in the Red Flag exercise for the first time in 1997, and in light of the experiences gained from this training, the Anatolian Eagle Training Center (AKEM) was established at the Konya 3rd Main Jet Base. Under the command of this center, the Electronic Warfare Test and Training Range (EHTES) was established, where Turkish Air Force elements learn Electronic Warfare tactics against Air Defense Systems and develop new tactics for the destruction of these systems. Thanks to this infrastructure, allied nations can also conduct training together with their TurAF counterparts and various types of aircraft coming from different countries have brought significant experience to the Turkish Air Force. DACT (Dissimilar air combat training) has an important place in air combat training, and thanks to AKEM, DACT training has become possible to be conducted against many different types of aircraft. Operation Deny Flight (a NATO operation that started on 12 April 1993 and enforced the no-fly zone declared by the United Nations over Bosnia-Herzegovina), which we joined as a NATO member, brought a new perspective to the Turkish Air Force on two issues. The first is the importance of Joint Operations, and the other is how vital Aerial Refueling capability is. The Turkish Air Force is actually quite experienced with Joint Operations. The Cyprus Peace Operation is the greatest example of this. The difficulties experienced at that time were engraved in the memory of the Turkish Air Force. AKEM especially prioritize Joint Operations training to improve the coordination between various aircraft during different types of missions. This capability bore fruit in later operations. Thanks to extensive training, up to a hundred aircraft operated simultaneously without any coordination problems in a considerably small area during the cross-border operations. This level of capability exists in very few countries in the world. In our region, we can say that only Israel has this capability.

Greece, on the other hand, carries out various activities within the Air Force to gain similar capabilities. Fighter Weapons School (FWS), located at Andravida Air Base, provides training on this subject. Although they are not yet at the AKEM level in terms of capability and capacity, we can say that they are a serious alternative to AKEM due to the current political approach to Turkey. So much so that countries that previously preferred Konya for training have started to prefer Andravida in this process. 

Is Regional Air Superiority Possible with Aerial Refueling Capability?

Another lesson learned from Operation Deny Flight was the importance of Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) capability. Starting in April 1993, the 141st, 142nd, 161st, 181st, 182nd, and 191st Squadrons were deployed alternately in Ghedi, Italy, for the air operations over Bosnia. During the Kosovo and Bosnian Wars, the Turkish Air Force conducted 10,626 sorties for a total of 30,647 hours and performed extensive aerial refueling. With the agreement made in 1994 to bring this capability to the Turkish Air Force, the decision was made to purchase seven KC-135A tanker aircraft stored in AMARC (Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group) after upgrading them to KC-135R. With the AAR capability, it is possible to operate with fewer aircraft and personnel in the Eastern Mediterranean. Both sides' planes use a significant portion of their fuel when they depart from their bases and reach the region, and after completing their missions, they must save enough fuel to return to their bases. Thanks to KC-135Rs, TurAF aircraft will be able to refuel without returning to their bases and continue to stay in the region and perform their duties. During air operations, the aircraft's combat radius is much lower than the ranges specified on paper. Planes do not go to their destination on the shortest route as soon as they leave their base; instead, as a necessity of joint operations, they first gather in the sectors allocated to them and create groups before the mission. The aircraft fly to the target area at the set altitude while avoiding enemy elements and determine attack patterns according to the munitions they carry. All these preparations take time and fuel, which seriously reduces the combat radius of the aircraft. Thanks to AAR, the Turkish side can perform the tasks that the opposing air force will perform with more than one aircraft in 2 or 3 sorties, with a single fighter in one sortie. Consequently, the Greek Air Force increased the number of aircraft using CFTs to counterbalance this shortcoming. They have 90 F-16 Block 52+ fighters, which is a significant force multiplier; however, it is still challenging for the Block 52+ aircraft at the Larissa and Araxos bases to operate in the Eastern Mediterranean without CFTs. Their closest base to the region is Souda in Crete. The Greek Air Force, which does not have AAR capability, wants to fill this gap by using the islands' airports as forward bases. The Greek side uses Kasteli airport located on eastern Crete as well as Lemnos and Skyros islands. Apart from their home base, the Greek Air Force also has Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) units here. The Turkish side uses only Dalaman for this purpose. The Greek Air Force can refuel from tanker aircraft of the Israeli and French Air Forces in peacetime; however, it will be less likely to refuel from these elements in a possible conflict. Another support that France can provide to the Greek side will be the Air Defense support that it can provide thanks to its navy. 

The Turkish Air Force, which is thought to be in trouble due to the high number of discharged personnel after the July 15 coup attempt, has increased its presence in the region contrary to expectations. The return of pilots who previously left the Air Force and the superior dedication and sense of duty shown by the remaining pilots played an indispensable role in this case. Because of this situation, almost all the Air Force personnel consisted of experienced pilots. Successful cross-border operations conducted shortly after the coup attempt proved that the Turkish Air Force's effectiveness in the region was still at the highest level. Thanks to the Anti-Terrorism Operations carried out inside and outside Turkey, Turkish pilots have significant experience in using live munitions in the combat environment. This experience is also valid for air-air munitions. The number of live munitions used by a single squadron exceeds the number of live munitions used by most Air Forces. 

Air Defense Systems vs. Cruise Missiles

In a possible conflict, both sides have geographic pros and cons. While the size (depth) of its area is advantageous for Turkey, the islands also provide a great advantage for Greece. Greece, which has armed the islands close to the Turkish mainland with Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) Systems in violation of the agreements, poses a threat to the Turkish Air Force. Greece has established a multi-layered Air Defense network in the region, while perhaps the Turkish side's biggest shortcoming is the lack of modern Air Defense Systems. To solve this problem, Turkey started to focus on developing domestic products. Upon the decision of Southern Cyprus to purchase the S-300 system, the Turkish Air Force bought its first long-range munition, Popeye, which remained the longest-range weapon in its possession for a long time. The JSOW and SLAM-ER cruise missiles purchased under the PO-III and PO-IV programs are other missile systems that can be used against air defense systems on the islands. The Turkish side also nationally developed the SOM and KGK systems as options that can be used effectively against Greek Air Defense Systems. When the national air-to-air munition family GÖKTUĞ project is also completed, it will be a significant force multiplier for the Turkish Air Force. There is no doubt that the Greek side is as competent as the Turkish side with the firing parameters of the air-to-air munitions we currently use. While it is relatively easy to take measures against this situation, the commissioning of indigenous munitions will eliminate the Greek side's advantage. As in the recent prior operations in Syria and Libya, Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles (UCAV) pose a significant threat, especially for the short-range SAM systems in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The majority of the SAM systems in the Greek Islands are similar short-range systems. Greece's advantage is that its air defense is partially integrated. 

Turkey's UAV and Electronic Warfare capability seem to be the key to success against this integrated system. Turkish Air Force ANKA UCAV and KORAL (Mobile Electronic Warfare System) systems as well as the high payload capacity AKSUNGUR and AKINCI UCAVs, and HAVA SOJ (Stand-Off-Jammer) capabilities, which are planned to become operational in the near future, will further reinforce Turkey's superiority in this field. 

The Greek Air Force's purchase of 18 Rafale fighters from France and the modernization of the F-16V aircraft is an important step to change the balance of power in the region. The Rafale aircraft will be an important achievement for Greece, thanks to its AESA radar and IRST capabilities, as well as advanced Electronic Warfare and Electronic Support systems and Meteor long-range air-to-air missiles. It can also carry SCALP EG cruise missiles and AM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles in the inventory of the Greek Air Force. They will probably replace the aging Mirage 2000s with these aircraft. The commissioning of Rafales and 84 F-16V aircraft with AESA radars in the mid-2020s will greatly increase the Greek Air Force's capabilities. Especially if the F-35 JSF procurement is accomplished, which is frequently mentioned by defense industry experts, unfortunately, the balance between the two sides will be completely inverted. 

Under the current political and economic conditions, it seems very difficult for Turkey to purchase new aircraft. Therefore, it is necessary to transfer all the available capabilities to the Hürjet and TF-X (Turkish Fighter) programs. We can say that there is a long and challenging road ahead in both development programs. In this period, it is crucial to modernize the F-16s to avoid any gaps, especially in the combat aircraft fleet. It is especially important to equip all aircraft with AESA radars and new Electronic Warfare equipment, starting with Block 30, which have been partially modernized via CCIP. On the other hand, it is extremely important to add our indigenously developed Low, Medium and High-Altitude Air Defense Systems into the inventory as soon as possible.

Having reviewed the capabilities of both Air Forces in a hypothetical conflict that we never wish to occur, I would like to conclude this article by saying that I truly hope that the "two countries learn from history and solve their problems through dialogue"