The NATO Ramstein Flag exercise, scheduled for the end of 2024 in Greece, is set to be a major training event. This exercise is part of NATO’s efforts to refine and test air tactics, especially in light of recent geopolitical developments and conflicts. It aims to enhance the readiness and capabilities of NATO forces in air and missile defense, as well as in countering electronic jamming and other anti-access, area-denial capabilities. The exercise will involve practicing offensive and defensive maneuvers and integrating various types of aircraft for more realistic training scenarios. It represents a significant step in NATO’s ongoing commitment to maintain and improve its defensive and deterrent capabilities in the region.In 2024, Greece will host the NATO Ramstein Flag, the largest inter-allied air exercise, marking the first time this event will be held in the country. Two Greek air bases, the 117th Battle Wing in Andravida and the 116th Battle Wing in Araxos, are set to welcome aircraft and personnel from nearly all Alliance member countries. This event comes at a critical time for geopolitical developments in the Eastern Mediterranean, especially considering the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, which has intensified the presence of American and other forces in the region.
The exercise provides a significant opportunity for Athens to showcase its role as a stabilizing force in the Eastern Mediterranean. The Greek air force plans to deploy its entire fleet, including Rafale jets and upgraded F-16 Vipers, demonstrating its high operational capabilities to its NATO allies. Additionally, the Greek air defense will play a key role, with elements activated across the country. The exercise will also involve units from the Greek Navy and Special Operations, engaging in target designation missions.
An important aspect of the Ramstein Flag exercise is the participation of Turkey. Despite historical tensions, there is a rare opportunity for collaborative training between the Greek and Turkish air forces under the current calmer circumstances in Greek-Turkish relations. It remains to be seen whether Turkish fighters will operate from Araxos or Andravida or use bases on the Asia Minor coast.
Earlier collaborative efforts under the NATO umbrella involved Greek and Turkish aircraft participating in mixed formations and air combat scenarios, alongside American and British fighters. However, past exercises have been marred by Turkey’s provocative actions, such as overflights over Greek islands, which led to Ankara’s exclusion from the NATO Tiger Meet 22.
Furthermore, Greece continues to strengthen its air capabilities, with the addition of another upgraded F-16 Viper to the 340 Squadron in Crete. This aircraft is part of an ongoing upgrade program enhancing Greece’s air combat capabilities.
This event underscores Greece’s commitment to regional stability and its role within NATO, reflecting the country’s strategic importance in the Eastern Mediterranean
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