Every year the Hellenic Air Force celebrates the Feast of Patron Saint Archangel Michael by organizing Open Days of their airbases. Part of our team attended these open days from the 4th till the 7th of November 2016 and visited several air bases. The mentioned air bases were Thessaloniki
(Mikra), Larissa, Nea Aghialos, Tanagra, Dekelia including the Tatoi Museum, Elefsis, Kalamata, Andravida and Araxos.
Our first base was Thessaloniki (Mikra) home to 113 Combat Wing consisting of 383 MEEA – Special Operations & Air Fire Fighting Squadron “Proteus”. The 113 Combat Wing housed the F5A/B before it was withdrawn from use in 2001 hence the F-5B gate guard at the main gate. On static display were 2x CL-415, a stored F-4E and a F-5B and also a C-47A Skytrain in pristine condition. We were then also given a tour inside their ops room were briefing of their missions is carried out.
We then drove south to Larisa Air Base home to 110 Combat Wing consisting of 337 Squadron “Fantasma” (Ghost) who fly the F-16 Block 52+. Back in 2016, Larisa was still home to 348 Squadron, flying the RF-4E Phantom before the squadron was disbanded and the type withdrawn from use on May 5 th , 2017. The static display was a bit livelier with 2x F-16C, 1x F-16D, 2x RF-4E and 1x Mirage 2000 on display. Apart from the active aircraft, after asking nicely to the security officials, we were escorted to a separate area of the airfield where there was an aircraft collection of historic and retired aircraft which formed part of 110CW. These included 1x F-102A Delta Dagger, 1x RF-104G Starfighter, 1x T-33A Shooting Star, 1x A 7E Corsair II, 1x F-4E, 1x RF-4E, 1x F-86E Sabre, 1x F-5A and a trio of F-84 Types – the Thunderstreak, Thunderjet and Thunderflash.
We closed off the day with Nea Aghialos Air Base home to the 111 Combat Wing which consists of the 330 “Keravnos” (Thunder), 341 “Velos” (Arrow) and 347 “Perseus” Fighter Squadrons. Both 341 and 347 fly the F-16 C/D Block 50 whilst 330 fly the F-16 C/D Block 30. On display were 3x F-16C Block 50, 1x F-16C Block 30, 1x F-16D Block 30, 1x RF-4E from 348 Squadron, 1x Mirage 2000 from 332 Squadron and a very interesting AB-205A from 358 Squadron which are based at Elefsis. Again, apart from the aircraft on display we managed to photograph a number of gate guards and stored
aircraft on base.
We started our second day with Tanagra Air Base which houses the 114 Combat Wing consisting of 2 All Weather Squadrons 331 “Theseus” and 332 “Geraki“ (Hawk) flying the Mirage 2000. The base is also home to the Hellenic Aerospace Industry which carries out overhaul of various aircraft, hence presumably why we saw a number of P-3s (1x P-3B, serial 152744 started flying in 2019) and C-130 on ground stored. On base we also spotted a large group of retired Mirage F1s which were withdrawn from use on June 30 th , 2003 and formed part of now disbanded 342 Squadron. On display were a number of historic aircraft which served 114CW and 1x F 16C Block 30, 1x F-16D Block 52+ from 335 Tiger Squadron and 2 home based Mirage 2000s.
We then headed to the Tatoi Air Force Museum which is situated within the Dekelia Air Base, home to the Hellenic Air Force Academy and 359 Public Services Air Support Unit. At the time, the Academy operated the Cessna T-41 Mescalero (one active T-41 was photographed on display at the museum) which are now being phased out to make way for the Tecnam P2002JF. Also noted on base were very rare PZL-Mielec M-18 Dromaders, part of the 359 Public Services Air Support Unit mentioned above. The role of the 359 Support Unit is to cover the public services’ demands for air firefighting and agricultural services such as crop-dusting and air fertilization. The Museum itself has a very interesting collection of practically every aircraft type the Hellenic Air Force operated throughout the years.
Our last base for the day was Elefsis Air Base, home to 112 Combat Wing, a subordination of the Hellenic Air Force Support Command (HAFSC). The wing is host of a number of squadrons which consist of:
- 352 V.I.P Transport Squadron “Cosmos” – (ERJ135BJ, ERJ135LR, Gulfstream V)
- 354 Tactical Transport Squadron “Pegasus” – (C-27J Spartan)
- 355 Tactical Transport Squadron “Ifestos” (Vulcan) – (CL-215)
- 356 Tactical Transport Squadron “Iraklis (Hercules)” – (C-130B, C-130H)
- 358 Search and Rescue Squadron “Faethon” – (A109E, AB205A, Bell 212)
- 380 Airborne Early Warning & Control System Squadron “Uranos (Sky)” – (EMB-145H AEW&C)
- 384 Search and Rescue Squadron “Puma“ – (AS332C1)
On static display were 1x C-27J, 1x C-130B, 1x ERJ-145H AEW&C, 1x AS332C1 Puma and 1x CL-215. Noted also was a G550, a Hellenic Army C-12 and numerous C-27J Spartans. Also noted on the same apron were 2x USAF CV-22B serials ‘11-0057’ and ‘11-0058’ part of 7 SOS from Mildenhall. Elefsis is
commonly used for stop overs by the USAF. Before we left the base, we then again asked kindly to security officials to be given permission to photograph a collection of stored aircraft within the base which they kindly obliged to.
Our final day began by visiting Kalamata Air Base home to the 120 Air Training Wing which hosts 4 Squadrons – 361 “Mystras” and 364 “Pelops” flying the T-6A Texan II, 362 “Nestor” and 363 “Danaos” flying the very rare T-2E and T-2C Buckeye. On display were 3x T-6A Texans, 3x T-2E and 1x F-16C Block 52+ from 336 Squadron. Also noted on the flight line were a total of 23 T-2E Buckeyes!
Our second stop was Andravida Air Base, home to 117 Combat Wing hosting the 338 th Fighter Bomber Squadron “Aris” (Mars) who fly the aging F-4E Phantom II. The base is also home to the Tactical Weapons School which in fact brought with it a very interesting visitor, an Egyptian Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon! The Egyptian Air Force has a long-standing relationship with Greece and often send their aircraft to Andravida for a couple of months for joint-training. Four F-16Cs from the 272nd Tactical Fighter Wing, 77th Tactical Fighter Squadron were sent to take part in this joint training exercise. We were very lucky as the Egyptians should have left already, but decided to stay an extra week! On display were 3x F-4E Phantoms, 1x F-16C Block 52+ from 335 Squadron and 1x Mirage 2000 from 331 Squadron.
The last and final airbase we visited was Araxos Air Base, home to the 116 Combat Wing consisting of 335 “Tigris” and 336 “Olymbos” Bomber Squadrons, both flying the F16C/D Block 52. The static display was sparse with 3x F-16C Block 50s, 1x F-16D Block 52+, 1x F-4E Phantom II from 338 Squadron and an LTV TA-7H Corsair II serial ‘154477’ which was one of the last Corsairs flying and had attended the RIAT 2014 Airshow.
All in all, the Hellenic Air Force Open Days is a very organized event and is a great opportunity for aviation enthusiasts alike to photograph the majority of the Greek Air Force inventory which is showcased across a number of airbases open for the public. A massive thank you to the Hellenic Air Force for organizing such an event and to all the officials who kindly obliged to our requests!