Greek rescue teams have found the body of the pilot of a Mirage-2000 Hellenic Air Force jet which crashed into the Aegean Sea on Thursday after confronting Turkish planes.
The body plus the wreckage of the state-of-the-art plane were located off the northeastern coast of the Greek island of Skyros.
Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos announced the grim news on social media, writing:
“A Greek pilot has joined the pantheon of heroes. He fell fighting for the defense of our national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Homeland bows [to his sacrifice] in mourning. Sincere condolences to his family and the Hellenic Air Force staff.”
Ένας Έλληνας πιλότος στο πάνθεον των Ηρώων. Έπεσε υπέρ πίστεως και Πατρίδος μαχόμενος για την προάσπιση της Εθνικής κυριαρχίας και της εδαφικής μας ακεραιότητας. Η Πατρίδα θρηνούσα υποκλίνεται. Θερμά συλλυπητήρια στην οικογένεια του και σε όλα τα στελέχη της ΠΑ
— Panos Kammenos (@PanosKammenos) April 12, 2018
The Mirage and another Greek jet were returning to an air force base on Skyros after confronting Turkish planes which had violated Greek airspace.
Greece’s air force confirmed in a statement that at 12.15 p.m. local time (1015GMT) contact was lost with the Mirage about nine nautical miles northeast of the island.
Turkish newspaper Milliyet reports that the Turkish armed forces have denied any of its planes were in the area at the time of the crash.
The plane, a French-made Mirage 2000-5, is one of the most modern fighter jets in the inventory of the Hellenic Air Force.
Fifteen of Greece’s 25 M2000-5 aircraft were obtained from France, while the remaining 10 belonged to the Hellenic Air Force and had been upgraded by the Hellenic Aerospace Industry.
The upgrade included the replacement of the its electronic equipment and weapons systems, turning the M2000-5 into one of the world’s most formidable warplanes.