Stefanos Karavidas, a retired pilot, analysed the capabilities of the French-made Rafale fighter jet that Greece will acquire and highlighted that the Greek Air Force has a “culture of victory.”
Karavidas served in the Air Force for twenty years and prior to his recent retirement, he was a fighter pilot with more than 2,000 flight hours on fighter jets. Prior to demobilization, he was in the front line squadrons, such as Squadron 330, while for the last ten years he served on F-16 Block 52+ Advanced aircraft at Araxos Air Base and in the 335th Squadron.
He had the rare opportunity to fly with the French Air Force’s top fighter, the Dassault Rafale, as well as to work with pilots of this particular aircraft.
For the last year and a half he has been working in the United Arab Emirates, specifically in Abu Dhabi, as a flight instructor.
Speaking on radio station ANA-MPA Agency 104.9 FM, emphasised that he has not piloted the Rafale but was none-the-less impressed.
“I flew in the back seat of such a French fighter. I must emphasise that the experts in this particular fighter aircraft are only the users. In this context, this aircraft, 4th Generation fighter, can achieve multiple capabilities in both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat compared to 3rd Generation fighters, such as F-16,” explained the Greek pilot, focusing on the value of some specific weapons systems that Rafale can bring to the Aegean.
“One technology of the fighter that changes data in an air battle in the Aegean is,” as he says, “the Link interconnection systems (ie secure digital connection systems with other aircraft for data exchange in real conditions).In the context of network-centric operations, Rafale be able to maintain a balance – the balance exists even now. In the special characteristics of the Aegean, Greece has qualitative and quantitative superiority,” he points out.
“In terms of air threats, the aircraft has a ‘longer arm’ thanks to the Meteor missiles,” he said.
At the same time, he pointed out that a Meteor rocket is three to four times faster in terms of the speed at which it is aimed at the target, while it can – compared to the missiles that currently exist in the Aegean – give an additional radius of action close to 50 kilometers, almost 25 nautical miles, something that is of great importance. It can also “be launched from one aircraft but be supported by the guidance of another aircraft further back and in safety.”
The most important factor, however, according to Karavidas is that “every pilot of the Greek Air Force is flattered that he has the honor to be given the task of defending the Aegean and of the sovereign rights of the country,” he said.
“There is a culture of victory. Young children aged 27 and over are involved in interceptions and engagements as formation leaders, not just as pilots. These people must therefore have a maturity that does not correspond to their real, biological age,” he emphasised. “Greeks can sleep peacefully, be proud, it is not a job, it is not a profession, it is a passion.”
“It is typical that in countries that have a security culture, such as Israel and even European ones such as Belgium, they do not leave operational fighter pilots whose training can cost up to $10 million in a period of 15 years to lose this investment. So even as citizens they retain the status of citizen-soldiers. They maintain their skills normally and in fact – as far as the Israelis are concerned – they participate in operational missions,” said the trainer of pilots who considers that in Greece something similar is possible.