MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles of the American armed forces will be operating in the coming weeks from the Hellenic Air Force’s 110th Combat Wing at Larissa Air Base.
The MQ-9s are returning after almost a year and a half to facilities which have been further upgraded under the US-Greece Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA).
The US is investing a total of $33.5 million in the base, so that the 110th Combat Wing can host technologically advanced platforms now and in the future.
Although the MQ-9 mission is linked to surveillance missions in the Mediterranean region, their range (1,850 kilometers) also allows them to be used for NATO missions to countries bordering the Black Sea (Bulgaria, Romania), with the aim of monitoring the situation in Ukraine.
For the Hellenic Air Force, the presence of the MQ-9s has added significance, given the ongoing negotiations for the supply of the UAVs to Greece between Athens and the Pentagon.
The Hellenic Air Force wants to procure three MQ-9 UAVs and a command station that will control them through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.
The US Air Force typically uses six MQ-9s per command post; however, the Greeks consider that three UAVs of this type are sufficient to meet the country’s surveillance needs.
At the same time, there are also discussions under way with Israel for the supply of Israeli UAVs, specifically the most advanced type of Heron (MK II or Heron TP), which can also perform offensive missions.
The experience so far with Heron, which has been subleased to the Hellenic Air Force and operates from Skyros, has been deemed satisfactory.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s behavior in the Aegean is vindicating Greece’s moves to strengthen the deterrence capabilities of its air force.
On Wednesday, Turkish Air Force fighters resume overflights in Greek territory, leading to a series of interceptions and mock dogfights.