On Thursday, 4 February 2021, the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, and the Ambassador of the French Republic, Mr. Patrick Maisonnave, attended the DV Day of Joint Exercise “Skyros 2021” at the 114th Combat Wing in Tanagra.
The Minister was accompanied by the Chief of Hellenic National Defence General Staff, General Konstantinos Floros, while the exercise was also attended by the General Secretary of the Ministry of National Defence, Mr. Antonios Ikonomou, the Chief of Hellenic Air Force General Staff, Lieutenant General (HAF) Georgios Blioumis, the Chief of Hellenic Army General Staff, Lieutenant General Charalampos Lalousis, and the Chief of Hellenic Navy General Staff, Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis HN.
The exercise included four “Rafale” fighters, which trained with Hellenic Air Force aircraft, Hellenic Navy ships, and Special Forces troops in the Aegean and Ionian Seas.
Following the fly-past of fighters and the takeoffs and landings of aircraft, the Minister of National Defence went to the exercise area, where he was extensively briefed on the joint training and the cooperation between Greek and French crews.
Mr. Panagiotopoulos then made the following statement:
“Today, I attended the DV Day of exercise ‘Skyros-21’ in the 114th Combat Wing at Tanagra Air Base. An exercise that included French and Hellenic Air Force aircraft, as well as Hellenic Navy ships and Special Forces troops in some of its scenarios.
This exercise is an excellent opportunity for the two countries to come together and develop ways to come closer at the tactical and operational level, as well as to send a clear message of our deterrent power. It is an opportunity for the two countries’ Air Forces to promote mutual cooperation in a multiple threat environment, thus upgrading the quality of their training, while it also allows us to maintain crew availability in complex missions, such as air-to-air refuelling.
It is also important that, in a few months, this Base will be the home of the first Greek ‘Rafale’ aircraft, thus carrying on the tradition of French fighters being used by the Hellenic Air Force. It’s a tradition that started in the 70s with the acquisition of the ‘Mirage F1’ and continued with the ‘Mirage 2000’ and the ‘Mirage 2000-5’, which are still in service with the Hellenic Air Force.
With today’s exercise, our aviators took a taste of the capabilities of the new aircraft, whose acquisition was recently agreed and ratified by the Hellenic Parliament. It is a procurement that was completed very quickly thanks, among others, to the very important contribution of the French Ministry of Defence, which proves that, through time, we have created with France a stable and constantly expanding military cooperation framework, thus ensuring, enhancing, and establishing a more secure geopolitical environment in our region.
It is also obvious that our common effort has produced great results and I am thankful for having once again the opportunity to watch the two countries' Armed Forces grow together, demonstrating their excellent operational capabilities and high-level training, which enables them to deal with the security challenges in our region.
Lately, Greece has received multiple threats and is called every day to deal with them, ensuring stability, development, and prosperity in the broader region. France and Greece jointly promote mutual cooperation also in this area, acting together as decisive agents of stability and security in the East Mediterranean, based on International Law and good neighbourly relations.
In conclusion, I congratulate the French Air Force personnel, as well as our Armed Forces personnel, for participating in this exercising and for their excellent performance, preparation, and organisation.