Corsairs and Phantoms

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Greece currently scores big headlines due to the financial crises, but to find out its effects was not the purpose of this year's trip to the Peloponnese, visiting the F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-7 Corsairs at Araxos as well as Andravida's F-4E Phantoms. Nice spring weather and the Greek hospitality made the trip very worthwhile and resulted in some nice images.

Top
Where? Greece, Araxos & Andravida
When?
March 2012

A lot has changed at Araxos since the last visit at Araxos in 2007: 336 Mira has switched from the venerable A-7 Corsair II to the state-of-the-art F-16 Fighting Falcon Bl.52C/D and thus now operates the most modern fighter jet in the Hellenic Air Force's (HAF) inventory.

HAF F 16 147 700 470 90
HAF F 16 147 100 67 85
HAF F 16 147 9870 100 67 85
HAF F 16 4293 100 67 85
HAF F 16 9557 100 67 85
HAF F 16 9594 100 67 85
HAF F 16 9645 100 67 85

To see them fly side-by-side with the Corsair was an interesting view and though the F-16s are most impressive with their conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) and the dorsal spine on the twin-seat F-16D, the Corsair was not to be missed, as the HAF remains the only Air Force worldwide to operate this remarkable light attack aircraft from the 1960s.

HAF A 7 4126 700 470 90
HAF A 7 4126 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4132 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4136 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4164 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4305 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4306 100 67 85
AF A 7 9730 700 470 90
AF A 7 9730 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4174 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4188 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4265 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4274 100 67 85
HAF A 7 9755 100 67 85
HAF A 7 0007 700 470 90
HAF A 7 0007 100 67 85
HAF A 7 0032 100 67 85
HAF A 7 0077 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4204 100 67 85
HAF A 7 9712 100 67 85
HAF A 7 9866 100 67 85

The HAF received its first examples already in the 1970s, and though rumours said that the financial crisis will put an early end on A-7 operations in Greece, it is highly probable that the venerable Corsair will still soldier on for some - which might mean 2-3... - more years.

AF A 7 0098 700 470 90
AF A 7 0098 100 67 85
HAF A 7 0087 100 67 85
HAF A 7 0111 100 67 85
HAF A 7 0117 100 67 85
HAF A 7 0122 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4247 100 67 85
AF A 7 9700 700 470 90
AF A 7 9700 100 67 85
HAF A 7 4315 100 67 85
HAF A 7 9564 100 67 85
HAF A 7 9666 100 67 85
ZHAF A 7 0093 100 67 85

336 Mira still has around 30 aircraft available, thus operates at full Squadron strength to fulfil its duty in providing an air-ground attack capability. This function also implies setting up a QRA force with two fully armed jets in the air-ground role, a function not seen very often within any NATO air arm and this is for sure due to the very special political situation in this part of Europe.
Though it also became quite obvious that the Corsair's future fate is quite clear:

AF Storage 0137 700 470 90
AF Storage 0137 100 67 85
HAF Storage 0136 100 67 85
HAF Storage 0143 100 67 85
HAF Storage 0144 100 67 85
HAF Storage 4336 100 67 85
HAF Storage 4352 100 67 85

These are some more Corsair photos linked and available in higher resolution. They will open in a new window:

911 Haf A 7 0007 20 911 Haf A 7 9755 20 911 Haf A 7 9730 20

911 Haf A 7 9943 20 911 Haf A 7 4164 20 911 Haf A 7 9685 20

911 Haf A 7 0093 20 911 Haf A 7 0018 20 911 Haf A 7 9988 20

911 Haf A 7 9704 20 911 Haf A 7 4188 20 911 Haf A 7 4241 20

911 Haf A 7 9770 20 911 Haf A 7 9996 20

The Tiger Squadron 335 Mira did switch in the recent years to the very advanced F-16C/D, overtaking the mission from the A-7 with the additional capability for aerial reconnaissance. Operations are already in full swing and on par with those of the well lined-up Corsairs, but comparing the airframes, maintenance and operations one can easily recognize the age difference of 30-40 years.

HAF F 16 0068 700 470 90
HAF F 16 0068 100 67 85
HAF F 16 0071 100 67 85
HAF F 16 4285 100 67 85
HAF F 16 9833 100 67 85
HAF F 16 9841 100 67 85
HAF F 16 9917 100 67 85
AF F 16 9791 700 470 90
AF F 16 9791 100 67 85
HAF F 16 4229 100 67 85
HAF F 16 4301 100 67 85
HAF F 16 9626 100 67 85
HAF F 16 9632 100 67 85
HAF F 16 9776 100 67 85

Concentrating more or less completely on the A-7, there were not so many opportunities to photograph the Fighting Falcon, but here are still some more photos also available in higher resolution:

911 Haf F 16 9632 20 911 Haf F 16 4301 20 911 Haf F 16 4285 20

911 Haf F 16 9886 20 911 Haf F 16 9917 20 911 Haf F 16 9899 20

911 Haf F 16 9791 20 911 Haf F 16 4229 20 911 Haf F 16 9647 20

911 Haf F 16 0062 20 911 Haf F 16 4209 20


Andravida is located in the West of the Peloponnese, not far from Olympia, one of the most well-known Greek historic sites and it can still be visited today. Of course Andravida itself is not that historically relevant, but two Squadrons of F-4E (AUP) Phantom II were more than a good reason for a visit.

The air base is home of the 117 Combat Wing, consisting of two Squadrons:

  • 338 Mira - Aris (Mars)
  • 339 Mira - Aias (Ajax)

338 Squadron is used as a Fighter Bomber Squadron, whereas 339 Squadron has a more special role for all weather attack and its aircraft can thus mostly be seen being equipped with the Rafael Litening II pod.

AF 339 4598 700 470 90
AF 339 4598 100 67 85
HAF 338 0296 100 67 85
HAF 338 4372 100 67 85
HAF 338 4453 100 67 85
HAF 339 0448 100 67 85
HAF 339 4620 100 67 85

Between the late 1990s and 2004 a total of 39 HAF F-4E Phantoms were upgraded by the German DASA. On top of the Kampfwertsteigerung (or Improved Combat Efficiency) midlife-update done to the German F-4F Phantoms by the same company, the HAF F-4Es were fitted with the Hughes APG-65GY radar (also used on the F-18C/Ds) as well as new avionics such as navigation and communication systems, partly provided by Israeli companies.

AF 338 4455 700 470 90
AF 338 4455 100 67 85
HAF 338 0171 100 67 85
HAF 338 0195 100 67 85
HAF 338 0253 100 67 85
HAF 338 0281 100 67 85
HAF 338 0294 100 67 85
0HAF 339 4564 700 470 90
0HAF 339 4564 100 67 85
HAF 338 4469 100 67 85
HAF 339 0459 100 67 85
HAF 339 0729 100 67 85

Armament upgrades included the AIM-120 AMRAAM, JDAM and AGM-142 capability for ground attack and various target identification pods. As these weapons are very rarely carried, the most-striking detail of the upgrade from the outside remain the 4 IFF antennas in front of the cockpit.

0HAF 339 0547 700 470 90
0HAF 339 0547 100 67 85
HAF 339 0476 100 67 85
HAF 339 4597 100 67 85
HAF 339 4663 100 67 85
ZHAF 338 0377 100 67 85

The name for the upgrade program used by the Germans was "Peace Icarus 2000", whereas Hellenic Aerospace Industries designated the aircraft updated in-country as F-4E(AUP), standing for "Avionic Upgrade Program".

HAF 339 0481 700 470 90
HAF 339 0481 100 67 85
HAF 339 0524 100 67 85
HAF 339 0557 100 67 85
HAF 339 0590 100 67 85
HAF 339 0599 100 67 85
HAF 339 4655 100 67 85

Not only did the upgrade proved to be very efficient, also the airframe itself can still be trusted and is reliable as could be witnessed during my witness: 10 Phantoms lined-up on the last chance is a view that cannot be seen elsewhere very often nowadays.

HAF 338 0394 700 470 90
HAF 338 0394 100 67 85
HAF 338 0406 100 67 85
HAF 338 4438 100 67 85
HAF 338 4477 100 67 85
HAF 338 4507 100 67 85
HAF 338 4537 100 67 85
HAF 338 4521 700 470 90
HAF 338 4521 100 67 85
HAF 338 4529 100 67 85

And finally also some more AUP Phantom photos linked and available in higher resolution:

911 Haf 338 4477 21 911 Haf 339 0587 21 911 Haf 338 4556 21

911 Haf 339 0459 21 911 Haf 338 0361 21 911 Haf 339 4631 21

911 Haf 338 0171 21 911 Haf 338 4413 21 911 Haf 339 0657 21

911 Haf 339 0494 21 911 Haf 339 4663 21 911 Haf 338 0253 21

All that remains to be said is a big "Ευχαριστω!" to all those people and HAF personnel that supported the preparation of this visit as well as on base!

Pinit Fg En Rect Red 20
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