Radar of a Greek S-300 missile system based on the island of Crete locked on Turkish fighter jets, according to state media.
Turkey said Greece used a Russian-made missile system to harass its F-16 fighter jets carrying out a reconnaissance mission in international airspace in what it called “hostile action”.
The radar of a Greek S-300 missile system based on the island of Crete locked on Turkish planes on August 23, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency reported on Sunday, citing Defense Ministry sources.
The F-16s were at an altitude of 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) west of the Greek island of Rhodes when the Russian-made S-300’s target-tracking radar locked on, it added. The report. The Turkish planes completed their mission and returned to their bases “despite the hostile environment”.
It was “incompatible with the spirit of [NATO] alliance” and constituted “hostile acts” under NATO’s rules of engagement, Turkish Defense Ministry sources told AFP news agency.
“Despite this hostile action, [Turkish] the jets completed their scheduled missions and returned safely to their base.
The allegation is Turkey‘s latest claim that its neighbor and NATO member Greece targeted its planes over the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean Sea.
Radar lock-ins are considered an act of hostility under NATO rules of engagement.
Greek Defense Ministry sources denied the allegations. “The Greek S-300 missile system has never locked down Turkish F-16 aircraft,” the sources said, according to state broadcaster Ert.
Turkey last week summoned the Greek military attache and filed a complaint with NATO after Greek F-16s allegedly harassed Turkish F-16s on a mission for the alliance.
Anadolu reported that the Greek pilots placed the Turkish aircraft under radar lock over the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey “gave the necessary response” and forced the planes out of the area, Anadolu said, without giving further details.
Greece rejected the Turkish version of events. Its defense ministry said five Turkish jets appeared without prior notification to accompany a flight of US B-52 bombers – which were not to be escorted by fighters – through an area under Greek air control.
He said four Greek fighters were rushed and chased from Turkish planes, adding that Athens informed NATO and US authorities about the incident.
Although both are members of NATO, Turkey and Greece have decades-old disputes over a range of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and disagreements over airspace there. Disputes have brought them to the brink of war three times in the past half-century.
Tensions erupted in 2020 over exploratory drilling rights in areas of the Mediterranean Sea, where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic zones, leading to a naval standoff.
Turkey has accused Greece of violating international agreements by militarizing the Aegean islands. Athens says it must defend the islands – many of which lie close to Turkey’s coast – against a potential attack by Turkey’s large fleet of military landing craft.
Turkey claims Greece is stationing troops on Aegean islands in violation of peace treaties signed after World Wars I and II.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has cut off dialogue with Greece after accusing Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of lobbying against US arms sales to his country.