Turkey is set to take part in a major NATO military exercise in Greece next year, code-named “Ramstein Flag,” involving nearly all the air forces of the alliance. The exercise is the largest involving NATO air power ever hosted by Greece.

It is expected to take place in September, bringing together squadrons of 4.5 and 5th generation warplanes, including the stealthy F-35, the Rafale and the F-16 Vipers. The Hellenic Air Force already operates the last two types of aircraft.

The 117 Combat Wing in Andravida and the 116 Combat Wing in Araxos, both in southwest Greece, will host the  exercise for the first time.

The Hellenic Air Force had lobbied to host the exercise, highlighting its ability to operate over large land and sea regions in line with NATO’s aerial operation doctrine.

Military sources emphasized that the exercise is a chance for Greece to reaffirm its role in ensuring security and stability in the eastern Mediterranean. The exercise also aims to enhance NATO forces’ preparedness in various operations, including aerial and missile defense and electronic warfare. It involves diverse aircraft engaging in realistic offensive and defensive maneuvers, according to the air force general staff.

Greek air defense systems will be activated nationwide, along with participation by the Hellenic Navy and special forces in reconnaissance and target designation missions.
Turkey expressed an early interest in participating in the exercise, following a recent “thaw” in relations between the two countries. However, a final decision on whether Turkish fighter jets will operate from Greek bases or along the Asia Minor coast remains pending.

This isn’t the first time Greek and Turkish fighter jets joined NATO exercises alongside US and British fighters.

Nevertheless, a surge in airspace violations and FIR infringements on the part of the Turkish air force recently caused its exclusion NATO’s “Tiger Meet 22” exercise in Araxos.