MILAN, Italy — Several U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drones have found a new home at Greece’s newly renovated Larissa Air Base, as U.S. military officials monitor NATO’s southern and eastern borders.
Work on the base near the eastern shores of the Aegean Sea continued through much of 2022. It was to include new maintenance shelters, ramps and taxiway extensions, with a local construction contract of an amount of 21 million dollars which should be completed in recent weeks.
This modernization was accompanied by the arrival of several Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles at the Greek airfield, as well as reported by the Greek journalist End of november. A spokesperson for US Air Forces Europe-Africa confirmed the arrival to Defense News, saying that “the United States and Greece have worked together to ensure the Larissa base has the capabilities” needed to support MQ- 9.
“Larissa Air Base is a strategic location, allowing MQ-9s to easily support NATO’s eastern and southern flanks,” the spokesperson said. “This decision (to place them there) is not a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but this placement helps to deter and avoid conflict with Russia. »
Officials declined to specify the number of drones based at the facility, citing operational security. local reports described eight of them.
Their deployment was authorized under amendments to the US-Greek Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement (MDCA) dating back to 1990. Among the changes, most recently agreed to in 2021, Washington is now authorized to carry out both on the Larissa air base and the Stefanovikio military aviation. Base the following missions: operation, maintenance and support of US maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, certain ground technical processing, as well as sustainment and support of air transport and logistical support, including tanker aircraft.
The Greek army itself is also trying to get its hands on MQ-9 drones. Athens submitted a program to acquire three of these systems to its parliamentary arms committee, which was approved in July 2022.
Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.