The crash of a three-decades-old Greek fighter jet, in which the pilot received only minor injuries, has caused fears over whether the fleet is being properly maintained because of the country’s ongoing budget crisis.
The 28-year-old pilot ejected from his late 1980’s Mirage 2000 fighter jet south of the Sporades islands group and the newspaper Kathimerini, citing unnamed military officials, said it was likely due to a malfunctioning engine the pilot was unable to restart over the sea. He was said to be in a hospital for treatment of a dislocated shoulder caused by the ejection.
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, the paper said, and was saved by the crew of a by a Super Puma rescue helicopter.
Greece bought the French-made jets in the late 1980s, taking delivery of 40 aircraft between 1988 and 1992.
There have been a number of crashes and problems with Greek military vehicles even though the country spends one of the highest ratios in the world on defense spending, even during the ongoing crisis. Just over a month ago, four officers were killed when a Huey helicopter crashed near the village of Sarantaporo in Elassona, central Greece, during a routine patrol flight, although the cause still hasn’t been determined after officials ruled out mechanical problems.
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.