A Mirage 2000-5 fighter jet has crashed north of Skyros island, and Defence Minister Panos Kammenos has announced on Twitter that the pilot has died.
«A Greek pilot in the Pantheon of Heroes. He fell defending faith and Fatherland, fighting in the defence of national sovereignty and our territorial integrity. The Fatherland, mourning, bows before him. Our warm condolences to his family and all members of the Air Force,» Kammenos tweeted.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was in constant contact with Kammenos after being informed of the incident.
According to an announcement by the Hellenic Air Force General Staff, on Thursday at 12:15 pm, contact was lost with a Mirage 2000-5 aircraft flying nine (9) nautical miles northeast of Syros island, and a search is currently being conducted to retrieve the aircraft and the pilot.
The Mirage fell slightly before landing and after completing its mission in the Aegean. In the morning it was in a state of readiness and was alerted for a scramble.
The Turkish new outlet Haberturk reported, citing officials, that there were no Turkish aircraft flying in the area at the time of the crash.
The particular aircraft and another one were returning from an intercept of Turkish aircraft in the central Aegean. There were clear weather conditions in the area and the pilot was experienced.
Initial information led to the conclusion that the second aircraft in the formation notified that the first had crashed into the sea. The Air Force is trying to ascertain the chain of events. The pilot of the second aircraft landed and briefed his unit.
Aircraft and Greek Navy ships were involved in the search. Frigates, Coast Guard ships, a Super Puma helicopter, and a Chinook helicopter with Greek Navy seals were sent to the area of the crash in order to search for and retrieve the pilot.
The Mirage 2000-5 is the most advanced version of the fourth generation Mirage 2000 series, and is at the frontline of intercept missions, as it is equipped with air-to-air weapons systems.