Leadership: November 18, 2004

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Greece and Turkey, two long time members of NATO, have very similar weapons and equipment. They are also the only two NATO allies that have threatened to go to war with each other several times over the last fifty years. With that in mind, the two nations have taken interestingly different approaches to recruiting and training pilots for their jet fighters. The Greeks have gone for having fewer, but more experienced, pilots. Greece actually has fewer pilots than it needs in some squadrons, while the Turks have 25 to 40 percent more pilots than planes. This is more normal these days, as the aircraft can handle more sorties per day than the pilots can. The Greek pilots fly over 40 percent more hours annually than the Turks. Still, the quantity advantage is definitely to the Turks, who have over 240 F-16 pilots, versus only about 60 Greek ones. Greece also has other fighter types, but is outnumbered by the Turks about two to one when it comes to the most modern fighters. 

This quality strategy does make some sense. Its unlikely that there would ever be a full blown war between the two countries, as their NATO allies would pry them apart quickly. More likely are a few air-to-air incidents, where the skill levels of a few pilots would make an enormous difference. Militarily, such victories would not mean much, but politically, the payoff for the winner would be considerable. 

 


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