NEWS

Spiliotopoulos in the hot seat

Tension rose in the northeastern Aegean yesterday when Turkish military jets came close to violating Greek air space in the area where a fighter jet carrying Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos as a co-pilot was carrying out simulated bombing runs. Two pairs of Greek interceptors sped to the scene, east of the island of Lemnos, and chased away the Turkish fighter jets, while Spiliotopoulos’s F-16 completed its exercise. The 58-year-old minister is himself a former air force pilot with some 3,500 hours’ experience in fighter jets. His 55-minute spin over the Aegean yesterday, as the co-pilot of one of a pair of F-16s, came during a visit to 110 Fighter Wing at Larissa. After the Lemnos incident, a total of 18 Turkish fighters entered Greek air space between Lemnos and Chios, while two Turkish F-16s flew within 10 meters of a pair of aging Greek A-7 bombers near Kastellorizo. All were eventually chased away, with seven simulated dogfights occurring in the process.