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The Hellenic Aviation was first established in 1911, with help from French experts. The Hellenic Air Force participated in the Balkan Wars, World War I, the Asia Minor War, World War II, the Greek Civil War and the Korean War.

Establishment and first actions in the Balkan Wars[edit | edit source]

In 1911 the Greek Government appointed French specialists to form the Hellenic Aviation Service. Six Greek officers were sent to France for training, while the first four "Farman" type aircraft were ordered. The first Greek aviator was Emmanuel Argyropoulos, who flew in a Nieuport IV.G "Alcuin" fighter, on February 8, 1912. The first military flight was made on 13 May of that year by Lieutenant Dimitrios Kamberos. In June, Kamberos flew with the "Daedalus", a Farman Aviation Works aircraft that had been converted into a seaplane, setting the foundations of the Naval Aviation. That September, the Greek Army fielded its first squadron, the Aviators Company (Λόχος Αεροπόρων).

World War I and Asia Minor[edit | edit source]

Inter-war years[edit | edit source]

Until 1930, Greek Aviation was split in the separate Army Aviation and Naval Aviation services, but in that year, the Aviation Ministry was founded with Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos as its first minister, establishing the Air Force as the third branch of the Hellenic Armed Forces. In 1931, the Air Force Academy, the Scholi Ikaron, was founded.

World War II and Civil War[edit | edit source]

A PZL P.24, the main Greek fighter in the Greco-Italian War

During the Greco-Italian War, despite its small size and obsolete equipment, the Greek Air Force gave good account of itself against the Italians, but practically the entire force was destroyed by the Germans in April 1941. The Air Force was rebuilt in the Middle East as part of the Royal Air Force, flying Spitfires, Hurricanes and Martin Baltimores. After Greece's liberation in 1944, it returned home and subsequently participated in the Greek Civil War.

Post-war developments[edit | edit source]

In the 1950s, the force was rebuilt and organized according to NATO standards. The Greek Air Force participated in the Korean War with a transport flight unit. Greece participated in NATO nuclear weapons sharing until 2001, using A-7 Corsair IIs to deploy U.S. tactical B61 nuclear bombs from Araxos Air Base.

Until the late 1980s the Air Force deployed Nike-Hercules Missiles armed with U.S. nuclear warheads. As a result of Greco-Turkish tensions around the 1974 Turkish invasion in Cyprus, the U.S. removed its nuclear weapons from Greek and Turkish alert units to storage. Greece saw this as another pro-Turkish move by NATO and withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure from 1974 to 1980.

In 1988 the first 3rd generation fighters were introduced, marking the beginning of a new era: The first Mirage 2000 EG/BG aircraft were delivered to the 114th Combat Wing and equipped the 331 and 332 squadrons. In January 1989, the first F-16 C/D Block 30 arrived in Nea Anchialos (111th Combat Wing) and were allocated between the 330 and 346 squadrons. On March 29, 1991 the RF-84F were retired from service after 34 years and 7 months of operational life. In November 1992 more RF-4E were delivered to the 348 Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.

In 1997 the reception of third generation aircraft continued. In July, delivery of forty F-16 Block 50 begun. The new aircraft, equipped with the LANTIRN navigation and targeting pod as well as AIM-120 AMRAAM and AGM-88 HARM missiles, were allocated to the 341 and 347 squadrons.

In 2005, Greece was among the first countries to add the F-16 Block 52+ to its inventory. Sixty of these aircraft were acquired and another thirty are currently in order. This advanced F-16 type is an improved version of the Block 50 featuring a more powerful radar, better communications systems and an upgraded engine.

External links[edit | edit source]

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