Fearing a potential conflict with Turkey, Greece moved toward adding traditional glamor weapons like French-made Rafale fighter jets, French warships, wants to buy American warships and has been building an international alliance, including a mutual defense deal with France.
Turkey has drones.
When relations with the United States soured, Turkey moved toward producing more and developed the Baykar Bayraktar TB2, under the guidance of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar.
He learned about technology while studying on a scholarship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Pennsylvania – and, ouch this is going to hurt – under the guidance of professors including George Pappas. Why can’t Greece find academics like that?
Greece does have super-scientists, those who didn’t bolt the country during a 2010-18 economic and austerity crisis that sent scores of thousands of the best and brightest fleeing to countries that wanted them.
Even with all the talent that Greece has, however, the country won’t be able to produce drones until 2024, giving Turkey two more years to try to improve its drones that have already been successful in taking out Russian tanks in Ukraine.
Here’s the problem for Greece: the Turkish drones aren’t just for shooting but surveillance and can fly over Greek territory and seas and spot naval aircraft, military movements and, when armed, take out a target in a heartbeat.
All from 1,000 to 15,000 feet while flying at speeds up to 138 miles an hour. Even our best skeet shooters aren’t a match for that so besides trying to fast-track building drones, Greece has to find defenses against Turkey’s.
How big is the danger?
“The Turks have started heavily investing in drones since late 1990’s whilst Greece completely neglected this sector and paid attention to more ‘glamorous’, items such as aircraft and frigates. So now they try to catch up,” Ioannis Michaletos, an associate of the Institute for Defense & Security Analysis (I.S.D.A) in Athens told The National Herald.
“The Turkish drones can be a big issue since the Turks have established experience by using them in various war theaters and that’s a big plus for them. The Turks are now producing lots of new drone series which are specialized, for example, sea attack drones that could be a major issue for the Greek Navy,” he said.
Some analysts think the drones have made tanks obsolete which means Greece’s force of 1,341 – Turkey has some 3,000 – would prove ineffective and the chances are that what would be the biggest tank battle in Europe since WWII won’t happen.
Evangelos Yeorgusis, a retired Greek General, wrote in the newspaper Ta Nea of the distinct advantage Turkey has if a conflict become a battle or a war – you can count on the Eunuch Union, United States, and NATO to just look the other way.
Greece has to dispatch F-16 jets to face the Turkish drones and he said that, it’s already not easy for Greece to deal with this and it will become even more difficult if Turkey increases the number of drones and the number of flights.”
With Erdogan openly coveting return of some Aegean islands ceded to Greece in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne – which he doesn’t recognize – and the drones in his pocket, and seeing Russia get away with invading Ukraine while the international community sends tweets instead of more arms, he could pull the trigger.
Michaletos said Greece’s options are limited for now, although there’s a scramble to develop drones just in case Erdogan decides he’ll use his and take an island or more, anticipating the international community won’t respond.
“There are potential countermeasures such as electronic interference that the Greek side can also invest in, in order to minimize the impact of the Turkish drone … we are in the midst of a “drone arms race” between the two countries. For the moment Turkey has a definite edge on that,” said Michaletos.
A French proposal for the supply to Greece of new Patroller drones and anti-UAV systems made in France was presented to the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (GEETHA) said Kathimerini.
But the focus is on developing an Iron Dome that can be a shield against drones, Israeli technology that can disorient them and intervene even when they are on a scheduled mission or controlled by ground stations, the report added.
Greece also is said to be talking with Israel and the United States about supplying MQ – Reaper drones and while the government is looking at trying to build them domestically the paper said the prospects are not good to do so swiftly for now.
The design of what’s called Unmanned Aerial Vehicles is heading into the final stages, said the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) which said the first of them is expected to be in operation in about two years, the paper added.
The project is being implemented in a partnership between the HAI and the universities of Thessaloniki, Thrace, and Thessaly and is called Archytas, named for an ancient Greek mathematician, aimed at improving defense and security amid worries of a conflict with Turkey.
But in the meantime, unless someone can develop a big slingshot spear like the one that brought down a dragon in Game of Thrones maybe the only other answer is to call George Pappas.