Original article published on OnAlert.gr here
Illiakis: Journal of Greek National Operations Centre tells the tale
May 23, 2013.
Seven years complete today from the day Costas Iliakis lost his life in the airspace between the [Greek islands] Karpathos and Crete. His F 16 collided with a Turkish aircraft trying to approach Crete and locate the positions of S 300 [Russian anti-aircraft missiles]. Many things have been written about the conditions under which the collision happened, and everything suggests that it was the result of the murderous actions of the Turkish operator.
What followed the death of Costas Iliakis and the search and rescue operation [for the Turkish pilot] that ensued, are described in detail in the Journal of the National Operations Centre.
The records of events revealed how the crisis caused by the air collision of the two fighter planes was handled ‘with fear’ as well as the expediency with which the Greek side wished to surrender the Turkish pilot to the Turkish search and rescue helicopter crew.
May 23, 2006.
Four Greek F-16, ordered to take off from the airport in Crete, with a mission to identify-stem, four Turkish fighter that were accompanying photographic aircraft of the Turkish Air Force. The Greek pilots were advised that in the specific maritime area, a Turkish frigate was also sailing.
The Turkish formation was designed to accompany the photographic RF-4, up till the coast of Crete. The persistence of Ankara to locate the positions in which the anti-missile systems S-300 had been stationed, was now well known to Greek operators.
Shortly before 12 noon, the Greek F-16, had approached the Turkish formation. Captain Costas Iliakis, approached the photographic aircraft under a mandate from the ATA in order to record its equipment.
Without any warning the Turkish Captain Ibrahim Halil, made a killing maneuver tumbling with his F-16, on the hood of Costas Iliakis’ aircraft who was killed instantly. The Turkish pilot was able to use the ejection seat and a few seconds later found himself in the sea.
From this moment onwards begins the handling of a crisis that could have lead to uncontrollable situations. Armed fighter aircraft from both countries took off and flew to the area between Crete-Karpathos. It smelled of gunpowder and a spark would be enough to cause an explosion.
In the basement of the MoD, at the National Operations Center is the then Α/ΓΕΕΘΑ Admiral Pangiotis Chinofotis. Soon was joined by the then Defence Minister Evangelos Meimarakis. Full preparedness has already been ordered but it is clear that subtle handling required.
The ‘On Alert’, publishes the journals of the National Operations Centre. They record, minute by minute what happened that tragic afternoon of 23 May 2006 in the area between Crete-Karpathos. How the Turkish pilot who killed C.Iliakis was spotted at sea, how he refused assistance from the Greek Super Puma helicopter, pulling even gun against our pilots and how we eventually decided to hand him over!
[photos of log book pages are displayed]
This page describes the first steps taken to ensure that the Greek military machine put on standby for every eventuality. The Super Puma helicopter, has been ordered to take off and Oil Tanker CENTURY has informed that it sails to the area where Turkish pilot Ibrahim Halil has been spotted.
The tanker picks the Turkish Pilot from the sea, who has been identified by our helicopter, but refuses its help.The [Greek] rescue team disembarks on the oil tanker and comes face to face with the Turkish operator. Despite the shock of leaving his aircaft in the manner that he did, Halil is tough. Evidently executing his superiors orders he stubbornly refused to get into the [Greek] helicopter. He knew he has caused the death of a Greek pilot and this can have serious consequences. When pressed by the Greeks, he pulled out his gun and carried out threats! The situation got out of hand and tense, not only aboard the tanker, but also on air. At that time in the air there are 120 fighter aircrafts both, Greek and Turkish, all armoured! A Turkish helicopter has already arrived to retrieve the Turkish pilot.
The time is 14.29. The command arrives from Operation Center is on one hand clear, on the other hand it raises questions:
” Command to deliver the Turkish pilot to the Turkish rescue crew so that it is clear that the hand over came from the Greek to the Turkish side. The hand over to be recorder by a camera.
The crux of the matter is that the Turks that day were trying to locate and photograph the positions of the [anti-aircraft missile] systems S-300. They succeeded by exerting military pressure on Greece to impose their positions. It was the first time a Turk who fell in the Aegean was surrendered in this way to his countrymen, just after he had killed a Greek operator.
This article is translated here to be used as a resource for another post.