Radar from a Greek S-300 missile system on the island of Crete, locked to Turkish fighter jets, state media say.
According to the Turkish state-run Anadolu Agency, Greek surface-to-air missiles are linked to Turkish F-16 fighter jets conducting a reconnaissance mission in international airspace.
The allegation is Turkey’s latest claim that neighboring country and NATO member Greece has targeted its planes over the eastern Mediterranean and Aegean.
The radar of a Greek S-300 missile system based off the island of Crete was locked to Turkish jets on Tuesday, Anadolu reported 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 target tracking radar went into operation, the report said. The Turkish aircraft completed their mission and returned to their bases “despite the hostile environment”.
Radar lock-ons are considered an act of hostility under NATO’s rules of engagement.
Sources at the Greek Ministry of Defense rejected the allegations. “The Greek S-300 missile system has never blocked Turkish F-16 jets,” the sources said, according to state television Ert.
Last week, Turkey summoned the Greek military attaché and filed a complaint with NATO after Greek F-16s allegedly harassed Turkish F-16s carrying out a mission for the alliance.
Anadolu reported that Greek pilots had placed Turkey’s plane under a radar lock over the eastern Mediterranean. Turkey “gave the necessary response” and forced the planes to leave the area, Anadolu said, without elaborating further.
Greece rejected the Turkish version of events. The Defense Ministry said five Turkish jets appeared without notice to escort a flight of US B-52 bombers – which were not equipped with a fighter escort – through an area under Greek control.
It said four Greek fighters were scrambled and chased from the Turkish planes, adding that Athens informed NATO and US authorities of the incident.
While both are NATO members, Turkey and Greece have had decades-old disputes over a range of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and disagreements over airspace there. The disputes have brought them to the brink of war three times in the past half century.
Tensions flared in 2020 over exploratory drilling in areas of the Mediterranean, where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic zones, leading to a naval stalemate.
Turkey has accused Greece of violating international agreements by militarizing islands in the Aegean Sea. Athens says it must defend the islands – many of which lie close to the Turkish coast – against a possible attack by Turkey’s large fleet of military landing craft.
Turkey says Greece is stationing troops on Aegean islands in violation of peace treaties signed after World War I and World War II.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan broke off dialogue with Greece after alleging Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had lobbied against US arms sales to his country.