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The Hellenic Air Force, abbreviated HAF (in , Polemikí Aeroporía, literally "Military Aviation") is the air force of Greecemarker. The mission of the Hellenic Air Force is to guard and protect Greek airspace, provide air assistance and support to the Hellenic Army and the Hellenic Navy, as well as the provision of humanitarian aid in Greece and around the world. The Hellenic Air Force includes approximately 33,000 active troops, of whom 11,750 are career officers, 14,000 are professional conscripts (ΕΠ.ΟΠ.), 7,250 are volunteer conscripts and 1,100 are women.

During the period of monarchy, between 1911-1922 and 1935-1973, the force was known as the Royal Hellenic Air Force (Ελληνική Βασιλική Αεροπορία, EBA, Ellinikí Vasilikí Aeroporía).

The motto of the Hellenic Air Force is "Αίεν Υψικρατείν" (Aíen Ypsikrateín, "Always Dominate the Heights"), and the HAF ensign represents a flying eagle in front of the Hellenic Air Force roundel. The Hellenic Air Force is one of the three branches of the Hellenic Armed Forces.


The Hellenic Air Force was founded as an army aviation service in 1911 and has more than 90 years of history.

Foundation and the Balkan Wars

In 1911 the Greek Government appointed French specialists to form the Hellenic Aviation Service. Six Greek officers were sent to Francemarker for training, while the first four "Farman" type aircraft were ordered.All of the six graduated from the Farman school in Etampes near Paris,but only four served subsequently in aviation. The first civilian Greek aviator who was given military rank was Emmanouil Argyropoulos, who flew in a Nieuport IV.G. "Alkyon" aircraft, on February 8, 1912.

The first military flight was made on May 13, 1912 by Lieutenant Dimitrios Kamberos. In June, Kamberos flew with the "Daedalus", a Farman Aviation Works aircraft that had been converted into a seaplane, setting a new world average speed record at 110 km/h and the foundations of Naval Aviation. During September of the same year, the Greek Army fielded its first squadron, the "Aviators Company" (Λόχος Αεροπόρων). On October 5 1912, Kamberos flew the first combat mission, a reconnaissance flight over Thessaly.This was the first day of the Balkan wars, and during the same day a similar mission was flown by German mercenaries in Ottoman service in the Thrace front against the Bulgarians.The Greek and the Ottoman mission flown during the same day are the first military aviation combat missions in a conventional war.As a matter of fact all Balkan countries used military aircraft and foreign mercenaries during the Balkan Wars.January 24, 1913 saw the first naval co-operation war mission worldwide, which took place above the Dardanellesmarker. Aided by the destroyer Velos, first Lieutenant Michael Moutoussis and Ensign Aristidis Moraitinis flew the Maurice Farman hydroplane and drew up a diagram of the positions of the Turkish fleet, against which they dropped four bombs. This was not the first air-to-surface bombing in military history as there was a precedent in the Turkish Italian war of 1911 ,but the first recorded attack against ships from the air.

Balkan Wars and aftermath

Initially the Hellenic Army and the Royal Hellenic Navy operated separate Army Aviation and Naval Aviation units. During the Balkan Wars, various French Henry and Maurice Farman aircraft types were in use. One of them, the Daidalos, was converted into a seaplane, and used for reconnaissance and bombing missions over the Ottoman naval base in the Sea of Marmara, one of the first such missions in the world. Naval Aviation was officially founded in 1914 by the then CinC of the Greek Navy, British Admiral Mark Kerr. Greek aviation units participated in World War I and the Asia Minor Campaign, equipped by the Allies with a variety of French and British designs.

In 1930 the Aviation Ministry was founded, establishing the Air Force as the third branch of the Armed Forces.Naval and Army aviation were amalgamated into a single service. In 1931 the Hellenic Air Force Academy, the Scholi Ikaron (Σχολή Ικάρων), was founded.

In 1939 an order for 24 Marcel Bloch MB.151 fighter aircraft was placed, but only 9 of the aircraft reached Greece, since the outbreak of World War II prevented the French from completing the order. The aircraft served in the 24th Pursuit Squadron (MD - Moira Dioxis) of the then Hellenic Royal Air Force.

World War II and Civil War

Establishment of 335 squadron in the Middle East (1941)
During the Second World War, the RHAF successfully resisted the Italian invasion in 1940, but practically the entire force was destroyed by the German Luftwaffe in April 1941.

The Air Force was rebuilt in the Middle East as part of the British Royal Air Force, flying Spitfires, Hurricanes and Martin Baltimores (335th, 336th and 13th Squadrons).

After Greece's liberation in 1944, it returned home and subsequently played a decisive role in the Greek Civil War, which lasted until 1949.

Post-war developments

The Royal Hellenic Air Force participated in the Korean War with a transport flight.

In 1952 Greece was admitted to NATO and the Air Force was rebuilt and organized according to NATOmarker standards, with US assistance. New aircraft, including jets, were introduced.

The F-84F first flew with the Hellenic Air Force in 1955. The Thunderstreak was developed to overcome the limitations of the Thunderjet's straight flying surfaces. The RF-84F was the reconnaissance version of the F-84 F Thunderstreak. This aircraft remained operational with the 348 Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the Hellenic Air Force from 1956 to March 29 1991.

In the late 1960s the RHAF acquired new jet aircraft, that served well for almost 20 years. The main jets that entered the HAF fleet during this period were the F-104G "Starfighter" and later on, the Convair F-102 "Delta Dagger" (in service 1969-1975) and the F-5 "Freedom Fighter".

In the mid 1970s the RHAF was further modernized with deliveries of the Dassault Mirage F1CG fleet and the first batch of F-4E "Phantom", upgraded versions of which still serve today.


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 Cyprusmarker, 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 fourth generation fighters were introduced, marking the beginning of a new era: the first Mirage 2000 EG/BG aircraft were delivered to the 114 Combat Wing and equipped the 331 and 332 squadrons. In January 1989, the first F-16C/D Block 30 arrived in Nea Anchialos (111 Combat Wing) and were allocated between the 330 and 346 squadrons.

In 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 fourth generation aircraft continued. In July, delivery of forty F-16 Block 50 began. The new aircraft, equipped with the LANTIRN navigation and targeting pod as well as AMRAAM and HARM missiles, were allocated to the 341 and 347 squadrons.

Entering the 21st century

Greece participated in NATO "nuclear weapons sharing" until 2001, using A-7 Corsair IIs to deploy tactical B61 nuclear warheads from Araxos Air Base. Greece then strategically decided to remove all nuclear weapons under storage in Greece and did not purchase any more aircraft with nuclear mounting capabilities.

In September 2004 started the Mirage 2000BG/EG fleet upgrade to the standard 2000-5 Mk2 and the project was undertaken by the French manufacturer Dassault and the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB). Fifteen aircraft were ordered, while ten more were undertaken for upgrade by Dassault and EAB. The enhancements included upgraded radar and avionics, air-refueling capabilities, new self-defence system and upgraded engine, while the cockpit has taken some serious reforms.

In 2005, Greece was the first country worldwide to add the F-16 Block 52+ to its inventory. Ninety of these 4.5th generation aircraft were ordered and delivery begun the same year. 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. The Hellenic Air Force Block 52+ Falcons belong to the 337, 340, 343 and 335 Squadrons with call signs "Ghost", "Fox", "Star" and "Tiger" respectively. 337 SQ is based at Larissa Air Force Base (110 Combat Wing), the other two in Souda Air Base (115 CW) and the last in Araxos Air Base.

Due to the retirement of units that have ended their operational life (A-7E Corsair II and F-4 Phantom II), the HAF should be looking forward to acquiring new 4th, 4.5th or 5th generation fighters in order to reach a total number of 300 advanced fighters, according to the Supreme Air Force Council "2007-2012 operational planning" study which was published in 2007. Possible candidates for a 4.5th or 5th generation aircraft are mainly the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale, JAS 39 Gripen, F-35 Lightning II, and the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. A pro-Russian lobby in Greece promotes the acquisition of Sukhoi Su-35 or Su-37.


Administrative organisation

The Hellenic Air Force is overseen by the Hellenic Ministry of National Defence, whose head is minister Evangelos Venizelos. More specifically, HAF is directly overseen by the Hellenic National Defence General Staff.

  • Minister of National Defence: Evangelos Venizelos
    • Chief of Air Force General Staff: Lieutenant Gen. Vasilios Klokozas
      • Chief of Tactical Air Force Command (HTAFC): Lieutenant Gen. Ioannis Patsantaras
      • Chief of Air Force Support Command (HAFSC): Maj. Gen. Konstantinos Iatridis
      • Chief of Air Force Training Command (HAFTC): Major Gen. Konstantinos Vlachavas

The three commands are the Tactical Air Command (Αρχηγείο Τακτικής Αεροπορίας, ATA), headquartered at Larisamarker, the Air Support Command (Διοίκηση Αεροπορικής Υποστήριξης, ΔΑΥ) and the Air Training Command (Διοίκηση Αεροπορικής Εκπαίδευσης, ΔΑΕ), both based in Athensmarker.

The Tactical Air Command includes eight Combat Wings and one Transport Wing. The Combat Wings have six fighter ground-attack squadrons. There are ten fighter squadrons, one regular reconnaissance squadron, and one marine reconnaissance squadron. Three transport squadrons and two helicopter squadrons form the organization of the air portion of the Tactical Air Command. The Air Training Command includes four training squadrons.

The eight major H.A.F. installations are located in Larisamarker, Nea Anchialos (west of Volos), Elefsismarker, west of Athens, Thessalonikimarker, Tanagramarker, north of Athens, Souda Baymarker, Araxosmarker in the northern Peloponnese, and Andravidamarker. Other airports supporting military operations are located in the Aegean Islands of Karpathosmarker, Santorinimarker (Thira), Rhodesmarker, Skyrosmarker, and Lemnosmarker as well as in Kavalamarker, Heraklionmarker, Ritsona and Tatoi/Dekeleia, north of Athens.

  • Combat operations are overseen by the Chief of Operations of the Supreme Air Force Council.
  • Support services are managed by the Directorate of Aeronautical Support of the Air Force Support Command.
  • The training squadrons and air force schools, like the "Icarus Air Force Academy" and the "School of Advanced War Training", run by the Training Directorate of the Air Force Training Command.

Force structure

Command Structure of the Hellenic Air Force.

  • Hellenic Air Force General Staff
    • 251 Air Force General Hospital, Athens
      • Center of Aviation Medicine
      • Supreme Air Force Medical Committee
  • Air Force Tactical Command
    • Air Operations Center in Larissa
      • 110th Combat Wing, Larissa AB
        • 337 Fighter Squadron "Ghost" - (F-16C/D Block 52+)
        • 346 Fighter Squadron "Jason" - (F-16C/D Block 30)
        • 348 Reconnaissance Squadron "Eyes" - (RF-4E Phantom II)
      • 111th Combat Wing, Nea Anchialos AB
        • 330 Fighter Squadron "Thunder" - (F-16C/D Block 30)
        • 341 Fighter Squadron "Ace" - (F-16C/D Block 50)
        • 347 Fighter Squadron "Perseus" - (F-16C/D Block 50)
      • 114th Combat Wing, Tanagra AB
        • 331st Fighter Squadron "Theseus" - (Mirage 2000-5 Mk2)
        • 332nd Fighter Squadron "Falcon/Geraki" - (Mirage 2000BGM/EGM3)
      • 115th Combat Wing, Souda Bay, Crete
        • 340th Fighter Squadron "Fox" - (F-16C/D Block 52+)
        • 343rd Fighter Squadron "Star" - (F-16C/D Block 52+)
      • 116th Combat Wing, Araxos AB
      • 117th Combat Wing, Andravida AB
        • 338 Interception Squadron "Ares" - (F-4E PI2000 Phantom II)
        • 339 Interception Squadron "Ajax" - (F-4E PI2000 Phantom II)
    • Radars
      • 1st Area Control Centre - Hortiatis
      • 2nd Area Control Centre - Parnitha
      • 3rd Area Control Centre - Ziros
    • Combat Groups
      • 126 CG & 130 CG - Heraklion & Limnos
      • 131 CG & 132 CG - Preveza & Agrinio
      • 133 CG & 134 CG - Kastelli & Santorini
      • 135 CG & 138 CG - Skyros & Tymbaki
    • 350 Guided Missiles Wing, A/B Sedes, Thessaloniki
      • 21st and 22nd GMS - Keratea & Skyros - (MIM-104 Patriot PAC-3)
      • 23rd and 24th GMS - Thessaloniki & Tymbaki - (MIM-104 Patriot PAC-3)
      • 25th and 26th GMS - Crete - (S-300 PMU1, Crotale NG/GR & TOR M1)
      • Maintenance Squadron
    • Special Units
      • 380 AEW&C Squadron - Elefsis - (Embraer E-145H)
      • Air Tactics Center & Tactical Weapons School - Andravida
      • Aerial Photography Interpretation Center - Larissa
      • 140 Electronic Warfare Flight - Larissa
  • Air Force Support Command
    • 112th Combat Wing, Elefsis AB
      • 31 Special Operations Squadron
      • 353 Maritime Reconnaissance Squadron - (P-3B Orion)
      • VIP Transport Squadron - (Embraer ERJ-135ER & Gulfstream V)
      • Tactical Transport Squadrons
        • 354 TTS "Pegasus" - (C-27J Spartan)
        • 355 TTS "Hercules" - (C-130H/B Hercules)
        • 356 TTS "Hephestus" - (Bombardier CL-215 & Dornier Do-28)
      • Search & Rescue Squadrons
        • 358 SARS "Phaethon" - (AB 204/205 & AB 212 helicopters)
        • 384 SARS "Puma" - (AS-332 Super Puma helicopters)
    • 113th Combat Wing, Thessaloniki AB
      • 383 Air Fire Fighting Squadron - (Bombardier CL-415)
    • 129 Support Wing, Thessaloniki AB
      • Transport Squadron
      • Supply Squadron
    • 206 Air Force Infrastructure Wing
      • 201 Air Force Supply Depot
      • 204 Ammunition Supply Depot
      • Petroleum Distribution Command
      • Medical Emergency Helicopter Unit - (AW-109 Hirundo Air Ambulance)
  • Air Force Training Command
    • Air Force Academy, Dekelia AB
      • 360 Initial Training Squadron - (T-41D Mescalero)
    • 120 Air Training Wing, Kalamata AB
      • 361 Air Training Squadron - (T-6A Texan II)
      • 362 Air Training Squadron - (T-2E Buckeye)
      • 363 Air Training Squadron - (T-2E Buckeye)
      • 364 Air Training Squadron - (T-6A Texan II)
    • Sea Survival Training School
      • 123 Technical Training Wing, Dekelia AB
    • Air Defence Staff Training Center
      • 124 Basic Training Wing, Tripoli, Arkadia
        • 1st Cadets Training Squadron
        • 2nd Cadets Training Squadron
        • 3rd Cadets Training Squadron
        • Local Defence Training Squadron
    • Air Force Command and Staff College,
    • Air Force Technical NCO Academy
    • Air Force Administrative NCO Academy
    • Air Force Radio Navigators Academy
    • 128 Communications & Avionics Training Squadron - Kavouri, Athens


Commissioned officers

NATO Code OF-1 OF-2 OF-3 OF-4 OF-5 OF-6 OF-7 OF-8 OF-9
Title Anthyposminagos Yposminagos Sminagos Episminagos Antisminarchos Sminarchos Taxiarchos Ypopterarchos Antipterarchos Pterarchos
Greek Ανθυποσμηναγός Υποσμηναγός Σμηναγός Επισμηναγός Αντισμήναρχος Σμήναρχος Ταξίαρχος Υποπτέραρχος Αντιπτέραρχος Πτέραρχος
Equivalent Title Pilot Officer

or 2nd Lieutenant
Flying Officer

or 1st Lieutenant
Flight Lieutenant

or Captain
Squadron Leader

or Major
Wing Commander

or Lieutenant Colonel
Group Captain

or Colonel
Air Commodore

or Brigadier General
Air Vice-Marshal

or Major General
Air Marshal

or Lieutenant General
Air Chief Marshal

or General


Aircraft Inventory

Aircraft Origin Type Versions In service Notes
Lockheed F-16 Fighting Falcon Multirole Fighter F-16 C/D Block 30
F-16 C/D Block 50
F-16 C/D Block 52+
30 new Block 52+ under delivery in May 2009 and completed by the end of 2009. They will replace the A-7E and TA-7C Corsair II.
Dassault Mirage 2000 Multirole Fighter M2000-5 Mk2
M2000 EGM
M2000 BGM
10 M2000 EGM/BGM were upgraded with radar capabilities and weapons systems to M2000-5 Mk2.
McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Tactical Fighter
F-4E PI2000
36 HAF F-4E Phantoms have been upgraded with advanced electronics under the program "Peace Icarus 2000".
A-7 Corsair II Ground Attack A-7E
HAF is looking for a 4th Generation replacement. The A-7E and TA-7C will be replaced by the F-16 C/D Block 52+.
Lockheed C-130B/H Hercules Transport C-130B/H
C-130H (EW)
Fleet undergoing an Avionics Upgrade (AUP) by SPAR Aerospace and HAI
C-27J Spartan Transport C-27J 12 Four aircraft equipped with IFRRS (In Flight Refuelling Receiver System).
Embraer ERJ-135ER VIP Transport EMB-135LR
EMB-145H AEW&C Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) EMB-145H AEW&C 4 Equipped with the Ericsson Erieye radar system.
Gulfstream V VIP Transport G500 1
Do-28 Transport - 2 -
Douglas C-47 Skytrain/Dakota Transport C-47B 1 Kept flyable for historical reasons.
Cessna T-41 Mescalero Trainer T-41D 19 Military version of the Cessna 172 Skyhawk.
Beechcraft T-6 Texan II Trainer T-6A
T-6A NTA has the capability to carry rocket pods, gun pods, external fuel tanks and bombs (similar to T-6B).
Rockwell T-2 Buckeye Trainer T-2C
To be replaced by new trainers.
Naval Support
Lockheed P-3B Orion Maritime Patrol P-3B 6 No longer operational since . HAF is looking for replacement.
Canadair CL-215 Firefighting & SAR CL-215 13
Bombardier 415 Firefighting & SAR 415GR
The CL-415MP model can be used for multi-role based on their configuration.
PZL M18B "Dromader" Firefighting M-18
Grumman G-164A Ag Cat Crop Dusting G-164A 10
Agusta A109 Hirundo MEDEVAC Helicopter A109 3
Eurocopter AS 332 Super Puma CSAR & SAR Helicopter AS 332C1 10 The HAF will buy an additional 15 Super Puma.
Agusta-Bell AB205 Multiple-role helicopter AB205A 13 To be replaced by fifteen new SAR helicopters. Also to replace the AB 212.
Agusta-Bell AB212 Multiple-role helicopter AB212 4
Bell 47G Crop Dusting 47G 7
EAB Pegasus II Reconnaissance (RUAV) E1-79 5 Twelve more under construction by the State Aircraft Factory (KEA).
NAMC YS-11 Calibration YS-11 1
Total -

Retired & Historical Aircraft

A Hellenic Air Force Dassault Mirage F-1CG displayed at the 2008 HAF air show, in Tanagra airbase, Greece
Hellenic Air Force A-7H Corsair II "Olympus" displayed at the 2008 HAF air show, in Tanagra airbase, Greece

Weapons Inventory

Navigation & Targeting Pods

  • DB-110: 2
  • LANTIRN-AWNP (F-16 Block 50D & 52+): 23
  • LANTIRN-TP (F-16 Block 50D & 52+): 23
  • F-4E UAP Targeting Pods: 15
  • A-7E Night Navigation Pods: ?

Anti-aircraft Systems


The camo extensively used by the Hellenic Air Force is the "Aegean Ghost" theme (Φάντασμα του Αιγαίου).

Accidents and incidents

The worst accident in the history of the Hellenic Air Force occurred on 5 February 1991 when Lockheed C-130H Hercules 748 crashed into Mount Othrysmarker during the landing approach to Nea Anchialosmarker. Sixty-three people were reported killed.

Photo Gallery

Image:Raytheon_T-6A_Texan_II%2C_Brno_CIAF_2007_%28Greek_Air_Force_01%29.jpg | Greek Air Force Raytheon T-6A Texan II during CIAF in Brno.Image:Greek T-6 Texan II 3.jpg | T-6A Texan II turboprop trainer of 120 Wing.Image:HAF T-41D 7134.jpg | Cessna T-41D Mescalero of 360 squadron used by the Hellenic Air Force Academy.Image:Canadair CL-415MP Hellenic AF1.jpg | CL-415 water bomber of 383 squadron.Image:C-130 Hercules - HAF 747 - Elefsina.jpg|C-130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft of 356 squadron.Image:Hellenic Airforce - 335 SQ Repair Hangar - close-up.jpg|Aircraft maintenance hangar of 335 Squadron, Araxos Air Base.Image:Orion-1s.jpg | Formation of two P-3B Orion maritime patrol aircraft of 353 squadron over Athens, overflying the military parade of 2007-03-25.Image:Greek T-2E Buckeye 1.jpg | T-2E Buckeye jet trainer of 120 Wing.Image:Corsair.sideview.fairford.arp.jpg|TA-7C Corsair II at RIAT 2005Image:Greek_RF-4E_Phantom_II_%281%29.JPG | RF-4E Phantom with special color scheme.Image:HAF Embraer EMB-145H AEW&C .jpg|A Hellenic Air Force Embraer EMB-145H AEW&C displayed at the 2008 HAF air show, in Tanagra airbase, GreeceImage:Greek AS-332C-1 Super Puma SAR (3).JPG|AS-332 Super Puma of the Hellenic Air Force, operated for Search and Rescue (SAR).

See also


  1. Magazine ΣΤΡΑΤΗΓΙΚΗ (Stratigiki, the Greek word for strategy), volume 185, March 2008, page 40
  4. "Ptisi & Diastyma" magazine, vol.280, Jan09
  6. HAF calls this type "Erieye EMB-145H AEW&C". The manufacturer, Embraer, uses the designation E-99.

Further reading

  • "World Military Aircraft Inventory", Aerospace Source Book 2007, Aviation Week & Space Technology, 15 January 2007
  • The Library of Congress Country Studies, CIA World Factbook
  • Aircraft inventory (Greek)

External links

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