Turkish jets violated Greek airspace 40 times on Tuesday, provoking 16 mock dogfights over the Aegean as Greek jets responded, Greek newspaper Kathimerini reported, citing Greek defense sources.
Turkish and Greek jets regularly engage in mock dogfights due to disputes over airspace, but incidents have ratcheted up due to a renewed row over territory.
Turkey’s airspace violations have likely been spurred by comments by Greek Defence Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos, who said this week that Greece had military supremacy in the Aegean, Kathimerini said.
Also on Tuesday, there were reports of five Turkish naval vessels south of the Greek island Kastellorizo, where Turkish ships have been exploring for oil and gas, Kathimerini said.
Tensions in the eastern Mediterranean have escalated after Turkey and the UN-recognized Libyan government in Tripoli agreed on a maritime boundaries deal that ignores the continental shelves of the islands of Cyprus, and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Kastellorizo, Karpathos, Kassos and Crete.
Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Tuesday that Ankara could send forces to the eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish military deployed armed and unarmed drones in an airbase in breakaway northern Cyprus.
“If necessary, Turkey sends troops, drills in the East Mediterranean and launches cross-border operation, it does whatever is required”, Oktay said in a speech to parliament.