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Greek F-16 pilots face Pakistani pilots over Aegean Sea, Israeli think tank reports

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Greek pilots of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) are very likely to be engaging in dog fights over the Aegean Sea with Pakistani pilots, according to an Israeli-based think-tank.

As Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies reports, the failed coup attempt in Turkey in 2016 resulted in the country’s Air Force losing almost half of its strength from 1,350 pilots to just 680 forcing it to seek help from its ally Pakistan in manning its F-16 fighters. The latter provided F-16 pilots in order to allow Turkey to maintain the operational capacity of its Air Force.

The coup attempt led to tens of thousands of purges from government offices, including thousands of military officers. The number of generals in the TuAF dropped from 72 before the failed coup to 44 after. The force quickly lost half its pilot pool—from 1,350 to 680. Resignations and retirement petitions of TuAF pilots followed the purge, bringing the number of pilots to fewer than 400 and further weakening the command and operational capabilities of the force. The TuAF had to recruit Pakistani pilots to fly F-16 missions.

It is not known how many Pakistani pilots are still flying with the Turkish Air Force or if their mission was only temporary, until the Turkish Air Force finds a way to fill the gaps, based on the Turkish Air Force’s production lines and five-year recalls in Active service of former airmen who had switched to Turkish Airlines (their recall expires this year) has already been achieved, at least in numbers.

The Pakistani Commander-in-Chief during his recent visit to Turkey, to meet – among others with Pakistani pilots – while describing the relations between Turkey and Pakistan said referring to Turkey and Pakistan “one people in two states”.