A Hellenic Air Force McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II crashed in the Ionian Sea earlier today. The pilots’ whereabouts are unclear. The reason which led to the crash is still unknown. A statement issued by Hellenic Air Force General Staff stated that the accident happened northwest of Peloponnese, 25 nautical miles south of the Andravida air base about 10.30 a.m.
The two-seater aircraft was assigned to the 338 Squadron part of the 117 Combat Wing based at Andravida Air Base. The aircraft was flying in formation with another Phantom at the time while conducting a low-level flying training exercise.
Search and Rescue operations are in progress to locate the crew of the aircraft. There are conflicting statements being issued by Greek Media on whether the pilots managed to eject. State broadcaster ERT reported that the pilots managed to eject, however, they have not been located yet. Participating in the operation are six Coast Guard vessels, two Greek Air Force AB-205 helicopters, one Greek Navy S-70 helicopter, and two Greek Army AB-205 helicopters. A C-130 military transport aircraft is also on standby.
Andravida air base is a military airport operated by the Hellenic Air Force, located 2.5 kilometres from the town of Andravida in Elis, Greece, housing the 117th Combat Wing, and the Air Force’s Air Tactics Center.
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom is an American tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter bomber initially developed by McDonnell Aircraft for the United States Navy.
UPDATE 17:00 GMT
The Hellenic Air Force General Staff has confirmed the crew did not manage to eject from the aircraft before the crash. Unfortunately, First Lieutenant Marios Michail Touroutsikas, 29, the RIO (co-pilot), was found dead late Monday afternoon, while the Pilot, Captain Efstathio Tsitiakides, 31, is still missing. The Ministry of Defense ordered a 3-day military mourning starting tomorrow.
On behalf of the Horizon Team, we extend our condolences to the Family and Relatives of the crew.