In an indication of Greece’s commitment to support Cyprus, three Greek F-16 jets flew over the Eastern Mediterranean island on Thursday during a joint training exercise with the Cypriot National Guard dubbed Steel Arrow.
It came on the heels of a smaller exercise involving Cypriot forces and a French frigate earlier in the week.
The exercise was preceded by a public debate in Cyprus after Greek F-16s did not take part in the military parade celebrating the island’s independence day on October 1 as they had in the previous two years.
Referring to the issue after the F-16s flew over Cyprus Thursday, Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos said that “we want Greek fighter jets in exercises, not in parades.”
Shortly afterward, two Turkish F-16 fighter jets entered the Athens Flight Information (FIR) region, passing over the Aegean islands of Oinousses and Panagia at 28,000 feet.
The overflights were seen as a reaction to the Greek-Cypriot exercise. The Hellenic National Defense General Staff said a total of 17 violations took place and that four mock dog fights ensued between Greek and Turkish fighter jet.