Greek armed forces

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GreeceGreece Greek Armed Forces
Ελληνικές Ένοπλες Δυνάμεις
Coat of arms of Greece (military) .svg
Commander in Chief : President Katerina Sakellaropoulou
Defense Minister: Nikos Panagiotopoulos
Military Commander: General Konstantinos Floros
Headquarters: Athens
Military strength
Active soldiers: 105,000 (2019)
Reservists: 360,000
Conscription: 9 or 12 months
Resilient population: Men: 2.5 million, women: 2.5 million
Eligibility for military service: 18 years
Share of soldiers in the total population: 1.13%
Military budget: € 4.23 billion (2019)
Share of gross domestic product : 2.24% (2019)
Founding: 1821

The Greek armed forces ( Greek Ελληνικές Ένοπλες Δυνάμεις , Hellenic armed forces' ) comprise the military units of the Republic of Greece with the armed forces of the Greek Army , Greek Air Force and Greek Navy .

In peacetime the Greek armed forces are subordinate to the Greek Ministry of Defense. In Greece there is general conscription for men between 18 and 45 years of age, the military service for conscripts is nine months for the army, twelve months for the air force and twelve months for the navy. There is no conscription for women, but they can join the military without restrictions.


Cruiser Averof today (2006) in the museum, flagship of the Greek Navy in the Balkan Wars

The Greek army and navy have existed since the Wars of Independence against the Ottomans in 1821. The first military academy was founded in 1828 in Nafplion , the first Greek capital , by Ioannis Kapodistrias , and has since been called the "Evelpidon Military Academy". In September 1912, the Air Force was set up as the third armed force . The Greek armed forces fought successfully against the Ottoman army and Bulgaria in the Balkan Wars of 1912/1913 and were able to almost double the Greek state territory. The Kingdom of Greece took part in the First World War on the side of the Entente and then, in 1919, in the Entente expedition in the turmoil of the Russian Civil War . In 1919, Greece sent an army into Asia Minor .

The renewed Greco-Turkish war ended with a Greek defeat in the so-called "Asia Minor Catastrophe". During the Second World War, Greece, under the dictator Ioannis Metaxas, refused an Italian ultimatum to surrender on October 28, 1940, defeated the Italian troops and pushed them back beyond the Albanian border. It was not until the military intervention of the German armed forces and the Bulgarian armed forces in April and May 1941 that the Greek resistance was broken. Parts of the army managed to flee to Egypt and continued the fight against the Axis powers alongside the British expeditionary force in Africa. After the Germans withdrew, the Greek civil war followed .

The Greek armed forces took part in the 1951 Korean War. Greece has been a full member of NATO since February 18, 1952 . In 1967 a military regime under Georgios Papadopoulos seized power. The ongoing Cyprus conflict and the subsequent invasion of the Turkish armed forces in Cyprus led to the collapse of the military dictatorship in 1974 and the return to democracy under Konstantin Karamanlis . For years, Greece spent a very high percentage of the gross domestic product on defense purposes, which was just below / above the percentage of Turkey. The main reason is the perceived threat to Greece from Turkey . Turkey threatens the casus belli if Greece implements the unilateral treaty, which has not been ratified by Turkey, to extend the territories at sea to 12 nautical miles. Furthermore, there are frequent violations of the airspace and in some cases also overflights over Greek islands. During a flight by the then Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakogianni alone , 29 airspace violations through Turkey were counted. A Greek pilot had an accident in 2006 while attempting to intercept.

In January 2015, a Greek F-16 crashed on a NATO training flight in Spain on the Los Llanos air base , killing 11 people.

Wars in which the Greek armed forces were involved:

Greek soldiers in Smyrna 1919

Command structure

The Greek Army , the Greek Air Force , and the Greek Navy are branches of the Greek Armed Forces. The commander-in-chief of the Hellenic armed forces is the country's president, currently Katerina Sakellaropoulou . In peacetime, the armed forces are subordinate to the respective defense minister.

GreeceGreece President of the Hellenic Republic
Coat of arms of Greece (military) .svg Defense Minister (gr.:ΥΠΕΘΑ)
Hellenic National Defense General Staff Seal.svg General Staff of the National Defense (gr.:ΓΕΕΘΑ)
HellenicArmySeal.svg General Staff of the Army (gr.:ΓΕΣ) Seal of the Hellenic Air Force, svg General Staff of the Air Force (gr.:ΓΕΑ) Hellenic Navy Seal.svg General Staff of the Navy (gr.:ΓΕΝ)

The air defense is in Greece, as in all NATO countries, not an independent armed force . The radar systems , air early warning systems, and various air defense systems are subordinate to the army, air and naval command, with a central control point (ATA) in Larisa .

The Greek Coast Guard (Λιμενικο Σωμα) is subordinate to the civilian control of the Ministry of Merchant Shipping in peacetime. In the event of war, it is under the command of the Ministry of Defense.

Military budget

Worldwide armaments spending 2008

Greek military spending between 2006 and 2014 according to the European Defense Agency :

Military budget
GreeceGreece Greece
year in € million in% / GDP
2014 4956  2.75%
2013 3060  1.68%
2012 3272  1.69%
2011 3604  1.73%
2010 4756  2.07%
2009 6023  2.54%
2008 6192  2.55%
2007 5579  2.44%
2006 5240  2.68%

Claas Tatje wrote for Die Zeit in January 2012 : “Frigates, tanks and submarines: Any austerity package bypasses Greece's military. And Germany benefits from it. ”In February 2012, the Tagesschau (or Tagesthemen) reported critically that the Greek armed forces had been excluded from all austerity efforts until then. Also in February 2012 Bernhard Fischer ran the headline in the Swiss Tages-Anzeiger : "While the Greek people the belt must always close belt, the army is comparatively handled with kid gloves. The savings bailiffs in Germany and France benefit from this. ”His contribution quotes an armaments expert from the Berlin Science and Politics Foundation and emphasizes:“ It is a paradox that precisely those countries that benefit most from Greece's military spending are those that force the country to save: Germany and France. According to Mölling, Greece is the largest arms importer in Europe. Around 40 percent of the imported armaments material comes from Germany. "

Personnel structure and equipment


During the Cold War , the armed forces had a nominal strength of 210,000 soldiers . The personnel structure was then adjusted. The Greek armed forces consist of professional soldiers , temporary soldiers and conscripts. Conscripts serve the armed forces for 9 to 12 months, and temporary soldiers (Greek: ΕΠΟΠ) commit themselves (as of xxxx) for at least five years. The aim of the armed forces is to become a purely professional army in the foreseeable future . The Greek Ministry of Defense is one of the largest employers in the country, employing around 17,000 civilian workers. All careers in the Greek armed forces are fully open to women. In 2008 there were around 7,000 women in the armed forces. The army (Ελληνικός Στρατός) was the largest part of the armed forces with 102,000 active soldiers and 150,000 in the reserve . The Air Force (Πολεμική Αεροπορία) was the second strongest armed force with 33,000 active officers , NCOs , and soldiers. Another 30,000 were in reserve.

The Greek Navy (Πολεμικό Ναυτικό) is the most traditional part of the Greek armed forces with 21,000 active personnel and 10,000 reservists. The Coast Guard (Λιμενικό Σώμα) employs 6,000 people and the Border Guard (Συνοριακοί Φρουροί) around 5,000 people.


In the period from 1996 to 2005, Greece spent around 25 billion euros on armaments; from 2005 to 2010, 52 billion euros were budgeted. The Greek armaments industry is to be involved with about 40% by means of multinational synergies . Greece is the largest arms importer in Europe. In recent years the Greek armed forces have modernized a large part of their equipment and adapted it to the various requirements. The main aim is to equip the armed forces for national defense and the armed forces for missions abroad. For this purpose, existing weapon systems are adapted and new types of systems are procured. Due to the rapid technical progress and the geographical characteristics of Greece, the equipment is not homogeneous.

In 2000, the Greek armed forces had 700 aircraft , 5000 tanks and armored vehicles, 400 artillery systems , 400 anti-aircraft systems and 120 marine weapon systems. As part of the resolved new structuring of the Greek armed forces, including the reduction of reserve units by about 50%, around 1210 main battle tanks and 671 artillery systems, some high-speed boats and submarines, a number of aircraft and various others were built in the years 2000-2010 Weapon systems retired. With this measure, the Greek Ministry of Defense planned to save around 250-300 million euros annually. The following weapon systems have been or will be withdrawn (as of January 2008):

Air Force

In a meeting of the responsible body (Government Council of National Defense) in spring 2008, it was decided to provide around 10 billion euros for the air force by 2015. With this budget, new fighters should be procured as quickly as possible and the fleet of older F-16 fighters modernized. The planning of the air force saw u. a. about 400 million euros for the combat value increase of the F-16 (block 30) and approx. 1.5 billion for the combat value increase of the F-16 (block 50, 52+) to the 52+ Advanced version . In addition, the 25 Mirage 2000 will be brought to booth MK-5 for around 1.2 billion euros. 1 billion euros are to be made available for the procurement of a further 20 F-16s as well as for a new training aircraft. The latter has been sought by the Greek air force for some time, which is why cooperation agreements have been made between the Greek, Italian and Korean arms industries.

The remaining budget of around 5 billion euros was to be used for the acquisition of fourth-generation combat aircraft. The plan was to order 40-60 machines in the first phase and a further 80 machines from 2015. For the period from 2015 onwards, more than 5 billion euros were earmarked for the modernization of the air force. According to Greek experts, the plan was to order 60 Dassault Rafale and, from 2015, 80 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters . Due to the financial crisis, plans to acquire new aircraft were postponed. The modernization of 84 F-16s to the "Viper" version, as well as the possibility of financing 15-20 F-35s, were announced in the course of 2018.

Status: end of 2012

Aircraft photo origin use version active Ordered Remarks
F-16 Fighting Falcon General Dynamic F-16 USAF.jpg United StatesUnited States United States Multipurpose fighter F-16C
Existing versions: 32 C / D Block 30, 38 C / D Block 50, 55 C / D Block 52+, 30 C / D Block 52M (84 of which are to be modernized to the version F-16V Block 70/72)
Dassault Mirage 2000 Break M2000D.JPG FranceFrance France Multipurpose fighter 2000BGM-3
2000-5 Mk.2
Modernization plans are being drawn up at the Ministry of Defense
McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II F-4g-69-0212-81st-tactical-fighter-squadron.jpg United StatesUnited States United States Fighter aircraft
F-4E PI200
Transport aircraft
Alenia C-27 Spartan Alenia C-27J (Pratica di Mare) .jpg ItalyItaly Italy Transport plane 8th 4th The other aircraft will be equipped with air refueling systems.
Lockheed C-130 Hercules Belgian air force C-130 Hercules aircraft.JPG United StatesUnited States United States Military transporter C-130H
Avionics Upgrade (AUP) by SPAR Aerospace and HAI
Embraer ERJ 145 A2612-Belgium-EMB145-CE-03-RIAT2013.JPG BrazilBrazil Brazil VIP transport
early warning system (AEW & C)
ERJ 135L (R)
ERJ 145H
also known as the "Ericsson Eerie Eye"
Gulfstream V DaimlerChrysler Aviation Gulfstream V N920DC STR.jpg United StatesUnited States United States VIP transportation G500 1 Avionics Upgrade (AUP) by SPAR Aerospace and HAI

In addition, the Greek Air Force has EAB Pegasus II (16) reconnaissance aircraft, multi-purpose helicopters (including Bell 205 and Eurocopter Super Puma ) and training aircraft of the Cessna T-41 Mescalero (19), Beechcraft T-6 Texan II (45) and Rockwell types T-2 Buckeye (40).

The Greek Air Force also operates a fleet of fire fighting aircraft . The Canadair CL-215 was the first specially designed fire-fighting aircraft to be used in Greece. Together with the successor model Canadair CL-415 and smaller PZL M18 Dromader aircraft , it still forms the backbone of airborne forest fire fighting in Greece today.

Greece has a dense, interlinked anti-aircraft defense network with components from both East and West with over 335 mobile anti-aircraft batteries. The anti-aircraft missile forces are usually deployed in the form of anti-aircraft missile deployment zones to protect rooms, objects / object groups and operations, and have the task of ensuring extensive and sustainable air defense protection. The airspace of Greece is divided into three anti-aircraft operational zones.

Tor-M1 mobile air defense system

Air defense inventory

Patrol boat CP Diopos Antoniou (Ρ286) in the port of Kos


The Greek Navy currently maintains around 100 small and medium-sized warships in the main bases in Salamis , and in Souda , Crete . Up to four new Bellh @ ra frigates are planned for the navy, which will primarily have anti-aircraft capabilities. The Navy operates u. a. also submarines of submarine class 209 and submarine class 214 .

The Greek Coast Guard (Λιμενικο Σωμα) is subordinate to the civilian control of the Ministry of Merchant Shipping in peacetime. In the event of war, it is under the command of the Ministry of Defense. The Coast Guard was founded in 1919 by the then Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos . Your main tasks in peacetime are the search and rescue operations, the prevention of environmental disasters, the prevention of illegal immigration, the police control of ships and seaports, and the securing of the sea border. The highest officer in the Coast Guard has the rank of Vice Admiral.

Coast Guard inventory

Land Forces

The Greek Army will replace the decommissioned battle tanks with additional Leopard 2 A6s, which will either be ordered directly from the German manufacturer Krauss-Maffei or bought used. In a similar way, older M-109A1 / A2 self-propelled howitzers are to be replaced by additional PzH 2000s . The acquisition of 12 attack helicopters and 20 NH90 transport helicopters is also a high priority for the army.

Budgetary consolidation efforts also saw the defense budget cut by 25%. It was only in 2014 that Greece ordered sufficient ammunition from Rheinmetall for the Leopard 2 tanks.

The Greek armed forces in international alliances and organizations


Member of NATO since 1952

Greece joined NATO in 1952 . Your armed forces were firmly integrated into the structure of NATO during the East-West conflict . In 1974, during the Cyprus conflict, this firm link between parts of the national armed forces and certain structural elements of the NATO command structure was broken for a short time. The Greek armed forces are currently involved in the NATO force planning process. As a contribution to the NATO Response Force , the Greek armed forces are prepared to keep combat units in high readiness at all times. As part of the NATO expansion, Greece took control and securing of the airspace over Bulgaria and Romania .

With the alliance case, Article 5 of the NATO Treaty in conjunction with the Greek Constitution regulates another possibility for national armed forces to be deployed. The Greek armed forces can also be deployed when a NATO ally is attacked. The alliance case was declared for the first time since September 11, 2001 since it was established .

European Union

WEU member since 1995

Greece joined the EU in 1981. With the development of its own European security and defense policy, the EU has acquired its own military capacity to act. According to the so-called European Headline Goal of 1999, the member states are to have 60,000 soldiers ready, who can be deployed for a year within 60 days. Greece is participating with various formations of the armed forces. Greece, with the 71st Airmobile Brigade, is the leading nation of the HELBROC Battlegroup, a newly established EU battlegroup to which units of the armed forces of Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus still belong.

Southeast Europe

The Council of Cooperation of Ministries for Defense in Southeastern Europe ( Southeastern Europe Defense Ministerial / SEDM) was founded in 1996 with the aim of maintaining stability and peace in Southeastern Europe. The seat of the Council is in Thessaloniki . The participating countries are Albania , Bulgaria , Greece, Italy , Romania , Slovenia , Turkey , USA , Croatia . Ukraine and Moldova have observer status .

The main fields of activity of the SEMD are:

  • Establishment and management of a multinational brigade with NATO standards, under NATO or WEU control. The multinational brigade has been operational since 2004.
  • Establishment and management of the Engineer Task Force (ETF).
  • Satellite communication of the military hospitals in Southeast Europe.
  • Cooperation between the participating countries in research and the armaments industry .

United Nations

In order to be able to fall back on troops as quickly as possible, the UN has concluded so-called “standby arrangements” with various states. In 2004 Greece agreed to provide around 200 soldiers for the UN.

Assignments abroad

Peace Mission in Bosnia

The Greek armed forces are deployed in several peacekeeping and peacekeeping operations outside of Greece, within the framework of UN , NATO and EU missions. The most important of these are currently in Kosovo , Bosnia , Afghanistan , Sudan, as well as securing the eastern Mediterranean with “ Active Endeavor ” and securing the Red Sea , the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean with “ Enduring Freedom ”. The Greek combat and merchant navy played the most decisive role in the evacuation of thousands of EU and US citizens during the Lebanon crisis in summer 2006 .

Most important current missions

  • Cyprus , 1200 officers and soldiers have been stationed in Cyprus since 1974 (gr.:ΕΛΔΥΚ), equipped with 80 battle tanks.
  • ISAF (International Security Assistance Force)
9 soldiers are currently stationed in Afghanistan (as of September 3, 2014).
  • KFOR (Kosovo Force)
118 soldiers are stationed in Kosovo (as of November 30, 2012).
Maritime surveillance with a frigate .
  • UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon)
Maritime surveillance off the coast of Lebanon with a frigate .
  • UNMIS (United Nations Mission in Sudan)
Dispatch of unarmed military observers in Sudan to monitor the peace agreement .
Maritime surveillance with a frigate , a submarine and a speedboat .

Most important completed missions

  • November 1950 - May 1955, Korea deployed under UN leadership, with 4708 officers and soldiers, as well as 9 Douglas DC-3 (C-47D) transport aircraft .
  • March 1961 - November 1961, Congo Operation under UN leadership, with 21 officers and 2 transport aircraft.
  • September 1990 - July 1991, Kuwait mission ( Second Gulf War ), under UN leadership, with a frigate.
  • March 1993 - March 1994 Somalia mission ( UNITAF ), under UN leadership, with 106 officers and NCOs.
  • March 15, 1997, 240 foreign officers evacuated during the unrest in Albania with two frigates and a speedboat.
  • December 1995 - December 2004, operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina ( IFOR , SFOR ) under NATO leadership, with 290 officers and soldiers, two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft , as well as a frigate and two minesweepers.
  • August 22, 2001 - September 27, 2001, Operation Essential Harvest in the former Yugoslavia, with 400 soldiers and officers.

Fallen members of the Greek armed forces

Evzones at the Monument of the Unknown Soldier in Athens
  • Turkish-Greek War (1897), approximately 3748 members of the armed forces.
  • About 5,000 officers and soldiers in the First World War.
  • Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922), around 15,000 dead and missing officers and soldiers.
  • Around 88,300 members of the armed forces were killed, wounded or are missing during World War II.
  • Korean War (1950–1954), 194 officers and soldiers.

See also


  • World Military Aircraft Inventory. Aerospace Source Book 2007. Aviation Week & Space Technology, January 15, 2007.
  • Military balance of power. Brassy's for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, ISSN  0459-7222 .

Web links

Commons : Greek Armed Forces  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b c "Defense Expenditure of NATO Countries (2012-2019)", Press Release Communique PR / CP (2019) 069, NATO Public Diplomacy Division, June 29, 2019 (PDF, 128kB)
  2. Risky interception maneuvers and no end - Gmünder Tagespost from May 24, 2006 ( Memento from September 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  3. SDA: Eleventh fatality after crash of NATO fighter jet in Spain . In: , September 28, 2018.
  4. Defense Data of Greece in 2014
  5. Claas Tatje: Nice weapons for Athens . In: Die Zeit , No. 2/2012
  6. ^ Marion von Haaren , ARD Brussels: Military instead of minimum wage - daily topics, February 15, 2012.
  7. Bernhard Fischer: Billions for the Greek Army . In: Tages-Anzeiger , February 20, 2012.
  8. International armaments: The largest armories and their customers. In: Spiegel Online photo gallery. April 24, 2011, accessed January 22, 2017 .
  9. World Air Forces 2013 ( English , PDF; 4.0 MB) In: Flightglobal Insight . 2013. Archived from the original on December 16, 2012. Retrieved on April 12, 2013.
  10. Alenia Aeronautica: delivery of two C-27Js to the Hellenic Air Force (pdf) (PDF)
  11. S-300 PMU1. Hellenic Air Force, accessed May 13, 2015 .
  12. ^ Dapd: Arms deal alarms SPD and Greens. In: Handelsblatt . October 17, 2011, accessed January 22, 2017 .
  13. Rheinmetall supplies tank ammunition to Greece . In: FOCUS Online . ( [accessed on October 13, 2016]).