The Turkish Ministry of Defense released footage showing Turkish and Greek F-16 Fighter Jets engaging each other in a mock dog fight over the Mediterranean recently. Turkey’s Air Forces’ radar systems detected six jets taking off from Greece’s Crete Island going towards Southern Cyprus, the ministry said in a statement. Turkish F-16 fighter jets responded by intercepting the jets after they discovered they were from Greece. The Greek defence ministry said that its jets, also F-16s, called for back-up at 11.30am yesterday, and then “proceeded to the immediate recognition and interception of the Turkish aircraft”.
Video footage posted by the Turkish defence ministry on Friday purportedly showed Turkish Air Force planes preventing the Greek aircraft from entering the area where Turkey was operating. The F-16s had departed from the island of Crete and were heading towards southern Cyprus, the statement said. On Friday night Turkey issued a Navtex notice – an advisory message to mariners – saying it would be holding a “gunnery exercise” from Saturday until 11 September off northwest Cyprus.
Both sides have held military exercises in the eastern Mediterranean, highlighting the potential for the dispute over the extent of their continental shelves to escalate into confrontation. Turkey extended its controversial Mediterranean gas exploration mission and scheduled new navy drills as its row with Greece and the EU over energy and borders threatened to spiral out of control. Turkey said energy resources near the island must be shared fairly with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus. The long-running dispute between Turkey and Greece, flared up after the two countries agreed rival accords on their maritime boundaries with Libya and Egypt, and Turkey sent a survey vessel into contested waters this month.