A 28-year-old Hellenic Air Force pilot sustained minor injuries Monday after ejecting from a Mirage 2000 fighter jet south of the Sporades islands group, but the incident brought to the fore the issue of old and malfunctioning aircraft currently in use.
According to most initial assessments by experienced military officials, the Mirage crashed because of a malfunctioning engine which the pilot was unable to restart. The 28-year-old pilot was in a military hospital Monday with a dislocated shoulder, which he sustained while ejecting from the aircraft.
He had taken off from Tanagra Air Base, north of Athens, in the morning on a routine training exercise, but was forced to abandon the Mirage at around 12.25 p.m. after the engine stopped working. He was picked up by a Super Puma rescue helicopter.
Monday’s crash is the latest in a string of such incidents that have revived fears about the reliability of Greece’s military aircraft. Just over a month ago, four officers were killed when a Huey helicopter crashed.
The UH-1H helicopter went down near the village of Sarantaporo in Elassona, central Greece, during a routine patrol flight. Initially Greek military officials indicated that the UH-1H in question had not had any mechanical problems but an investigation into the cause of the crash remains ongoing.
Last November the fuel tank of an F-16 fighter jet that was preparing to take off from Hania airport on the island of Crete burst into flames, while two months earlier an Apache helicopter crash landed during exercises off the coast of Halkidiki in central Macedonia, northern Greece.