American message with 70 helicopters for Greece
In the latest indication of the strengthening of the US-Greece strategic military relationship, and amidst heightened threats from Turkey in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean, the arsenal of the Hellenic Army will be substantially bolstered operationally with the addition of 70 American OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
The Kiowa Warrior helicopters are operated in an armed reconnaissance role in support of ground troops, and could play a crucial role in deterring landings on Greek islands at a time when there are mounting concerns that Ankara might wish to trigger a military "hot incident in the Aegean.
Former PM Costas Simitis, who was confronted with the January, 1996, Imia crisis that brought Turkey and Greece to the brink of war, in an Op-Ed piece published in Kathimerini on 9 June warned that Ankara may again attempt to test Greek resolve as it had back then.
On 11 June, there were five Turkish Air Force overflights over Southeastern Aegean islands and 99 violations of Greek airspace and the Athens FIR.
"A single engine, four-bladed helicopter with advanced visionics, navigation, communication, and weapons and cockpit integration systems. The mast-mounted sight (MMS) houses a thermal imaging system, low-light television, laser rangefinder/designator, and an optical boresight system. These systems enable the Kiowa Warrior to operate by day and night and allow target acquisition and engagement at stand-off ranges and in adverse weather conditions," is how military.com describes the helicopter's capabilities.
In an exceptionally sweet deal, Greece paid only the $44mn for the helicopters that had been withdrawn by the US military. The actual value is estimated at $589mn.