“We do not expect any war in the Aegean. It has already begun and we already have our first dead,” a high-ranking official at Greece’s General staff said following the crash of Mirage 2000 and the death of Greek Air force pilot Lt Giorgos Baltadoros off the island of Skyros on Thursday.
According to Sunday newspaper, realnews, the high-ranking officer of the Greek General Staff “Giorgos Baltadoros is the first human loss in this undeclared Greek-Turkish war of nerves but also wearing down.” The official spoke on conditions of anonymity.
As early as the first days of the escalation imposed by Ankara in Greek-Turkish relations with the arrest of two Greek soldiers, the General Staff officers have pointed at the dangers of prolonged alert in the Armed Forces: big financial cost, strain of human resources that can even lead to losses of human life.
Turkish violations of Greek airspace
Together with an fighter jet of the same type, the Mirage 2000-5 was returning form a mission to intercept two Turkish F-16s that had violated the FIR Athens between the islands of Chios and Lesvos.
Violations of Greek airspace by Turkish jets has been a common practice after 1996, when Ankara started to claim Greek islands in the Aegean Sea. The violations often end in daangeorus engagements and dog fights.
According to data, in the last two years and in 2018:
- 1,671 Turkish violations took place in 2016
- 3,317 in 2017
- 920 in the first three months of 2018
Flight recorder located
As search operations in the area where the Mirage 2000-5 crashed continue, divers located the the signal of flight recorder of the fighter jet at a depth of 800 meters on Saturday. A robotic device of the Greek Center for Marine Research is expected to attempt the retrieve of the flight recorder as wells as to examine the state of the sunken air craft body.
The flight recorder is to shed light into the causes of the crash. While, experts do not exclude a mechanical failure, the most dominant scenario speaks of a vertigo the pilot suffered short before landing at the airport of Skyros.
Lt Baltadotos laid to rest
The 34-year-old serviceman was laid to rest in his home village Morfovouni by Kastoria on Saturday in an atmosphere of endless sorrow and unbearable pain especially for his family.
The Greek Armed Forces have declared a 3-day mourning for Giorgos Baltadoros.
The Greek Palriament has “adopted” his orphan children, aged 6 and 8, and will pay per child 9,000 euro per year until they reach adulthood or until 25 if they study.
This is the usual practice of the Greek parliament for the children of pilots who lose their lives while on duty.
Upon an initiative by the chairman of the Greek Super League, the amount of 100,000 is to be given to Baltadotos’s family as support.