Panagiotopoulos announces 3 days of military mourning after F-4 crash

Nikos Panagiotopoulos

National Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos announced a three-day period of mourning in the country's armed forces on Monday.

The minister announced it after the crash of one of the Hellenic Air Force's F-4 Phantom II jets, that crashed into the sea 25 miles south of the Andravida airport on Monday morning. The two-seater fighter jet of the 338 Squadron of the 117 Combat Wing was carrying out a training flight when it crashed.

The aircraft's 29-year-old Flying Officer co-pilot was found dead during a search operation, it was reported late on Monday afternoon.

The search continues for the plane's 31-year-old Flight Lieutenant pilot.

"While the search for the Flight Lieutenant continues, we express our sadness and grief at the loss of the co-pilot after the fighter jet crashed during a training activity in Andravida," Panagiotopoulos said.

"Our thoughts are with the family of the Flying Officer, to whom we express our sympathy and sincere condolences."

Deep condolences to the family of the young Flying Officer were also expressed in statements and in social media by Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias.

Main opposition party SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance and its leader, Alexis Tsipras, also expressed condolences in separate statements.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis sent his condolences to the family of the Hellenic Air Force pilot who lost his life in the crash of an F-4 “Phantom” fighter jet in the Ionian Sea on Monday.

“It is a tragic accident that happened in the line of duty and under extremely demanding training conditions. It brings grief to the whole Hellenic Air Force and reminds us all how tough and dangerous the battle our pilots give every day to defend our homeland’s skies,” he said, adding “my sincerest condolences to the family.”

“Our homeland will never forget him,” he concluded.

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