Saturday 05 December 2020, 08:57 PM
Erdogan-Imran bonhomie in air: Pak pilots fly Turkish F-16s
By Ateet Sharma | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 11/3/2020 2:20:05 PM
Erdogan-Imran bonhomie in air: Pak pilots fly Turkish F-16s

New Delhi: Last year, Turkeys Defence Minister Hulusi Akar had publicly admitted that the Turkish Air Force is facing an acute shortage of fighter pilots. "When we conduct ground operations, our air force, with great heroism and sacrifice, successfully hits its targets, with one pilot assuming tasks that five pilots are supposed to do," Akar had said during a visit to Syria. The scarcity had a lot to do with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jailing, chucking out nearly 700 pilots after the 2016 failed coup. Almost the same number left voluntarily, fearing prison, or retired from service.

They say desperate times call for desperate measures. The Stockholm-based Nordic Monitor reported how the Turkish government had gone on a hiring spree, inviting many retired fighter pilots working in civil aviation to join the military and also calling out to those who had failed to clear the competency tests earlier. After getting a cold response, and cold feet, Erdogan reached out to more (in)competent people-his buddy Imran Khan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan-for help. Khan had for long been trying to prove that people of Pakistan have a Turkish lineage and that "enemies of Turkey are enemies of Pakistan. Friends of Turkey are the friends of Pakistan." Moreover, both the countries weren't left with many friends, not just around the neighbourhood but the world over.

Even though the United States refused to train the Pakistani pilots of Turkish Air Force, it has been for some time now that they have been flying their Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets.

"Theoretically, this started in June 2020, but as early as 2019, incidents have been recorded where Turkish planes are flown by Pakistani pilots. And while this is happening, the few Turkish pilots continue to dwindle, making for the first time in history a national air force heavily manned by pilots of a foreign nation," reports the Greek City Times.

Coming from a country where nearly half of the civilian pilots have fake licenses and paid someone else to sit in exams on their behalf, the capability of Pakistani F-16 pilots is also not ranked too high by many analysts.

"The Turkish Air Force is a great example of what happens when you put equipment on top of personnel... Turkey has reached the point of literally accepting anyone it wants to become a pilot, but without success... Turkish F-16s being flown by untrained Pakistani pilots in recent years in itself says a lot about their combat readiness, but also their abilities in a possible war with Greece," said defensegr, the most comprehensive blog on technical defense and military issues in the Greek-speaking Internet.

With Turkey continuing to destabilize the region with its provocative moves in the Eastern Mediterranean, Greece is already pretty perturbed with Pakistani presence in its territorial waters and airspace. In 2019, the Greeks had vociferously protested repeated violations by a Pakistani aircraft with Turkish jets during the Eastern Mediterranean exercise.

With Ankara and Islamabad becoming a big headache, no wonder then that Greece is now looking at boosting its ties with New Delhi.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias holding talks with his Indian counterpart S. Jaishankar last week and the meeting of Greek Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos with Ambassador of India to Greece Amrit Lugun in Athens earlier-these are seen as important developments in a fast-changing geopolitical scenario.

"We discussed issues of further deepening our bilateral relations in the defence sector and promote cooperation between the defense industries of our two countries," said Panagiotopoulos.

"In video conference with India FM Dr S. Jaishankar, strengthening Greece-India relations and developments in Eastern Mediterranean and South Asia in focus," tweeted Dendias after the virtual meeting with his Indian counterpart.

It shouldn't be a huge surprise if we see a joint Indo-Greek military exercise in the Mediterranean waters in the coming months. Well, the relations between the two date back to the Hellenistic era and aren't based on a false lineage.

Tags:

Turkeys,Defence Minister,Hulusi Akar,admitted,Turkish Air Force,shortage,fighter,pilots,

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