29 Aralık 2011 Perşembe
Large scale exercise of the Hellenic Navy
Defencenet.gr exclusively presented the first photos and initial conclusions from the large exercise “Astrapi” of the Hellenic Navy held in central southern Aegean during the second week of December.
It was one of the largest mobilizations of the Fleet and it was not a single exercise but four of them evolving simultaneously. Thus, apart from the exercise “Astrapi”, which included Frigates – units of the Navy also conducted the exercises “Ormi” of the Fast Patrol Boats Command, “Vronti” of the Gunboats Command and “Aigialos” of the Amphibious Forces Command.
In order to conduct the four parallel exercises the Navy mobilized a large numbers of boats and helicopters. More specifically, in the Aegean were 12 frigates, divided into two squadrons A and B, at least 15 fast attack crafts and gunboats, and submarines including the “Papanikolis” (S-120) and Triton (S-112). The Navy Helicopter Command participated with at least 8 helicopters for operations on the frigates. Also LST vessels participated in the “Aigialos” exercise, while the support had been taken over by two General Support Ships “Aliakmon” and “Prometheus”.
All vessels were constantly in the field during the five days of the exercise taking part around the clock in various exercise scenarios. Live firing came from the main guns of the ships (5-inch guns and the OTO-Melara 76 mm.), and from Phalanx anti-missile systems. Antiaircraft firing was performed against a windsock tugged by a private owned Liar Jet. The fire was so accurate that the windsock disbanded after a few passages.
Operations were also performed during the night, almost in complete lights blackout, which included take offs and landings of helicopters taking part in anti-submarine scenarios.
One of the main phases of the exercise included an attack by at least 40 (!) fighter aircraft, mostly F-16 from their bases in Crete and F-4AUP, while the Fleet was “protected” by Mirage 2000EGM of the 332 Squadron. Thus the air part of the exercise also included full scale scenarios of simulated dogfights between aircraft attempting to attack the main units of the Fleet and those which had the role of protection.
The last phase of the exercise was attended by the Alternate Minister of Defence Mr. Ragousis onboard the frigate Hydra and the Alternate Minister of Defence Mr. Georgiou onboard a EMB-145H AEW&C aircraft.