Greece plans to protect Olympics against assaults by air

Thursday, March 18, 2004

ATHENS Greece will deploy a range of anti-aircraft assets to protect against Al Qaida air threats during the Olympic Games later this year.

Officials said the Hellenic Army and Air Force have coordinated forces to form a network of surface-to-air missile systems to protect Olympic Village as well as vital facilities throughout Greece. They said the anti-aircraft umbrella has been configured to defend against unmanned aircraft vehicles, motorized handgliders and other airborne threats.

The anti-aircraft missile umbrella has been comprised of a range of mostly U.S.-origin systems. They included the PAC-2 missile defense system.

Greek Defense Minister Spilios Spiliotopoulos has asked NATO for air and naval assets to help protect the Olympic Games, Middle East Newsline reported. Spiliotopoulos said they would include the deployment of airborne early-warning and control aircraft, NATO's naval force in the Mediterranean and the "use of certain high technology systems which NATO has but which Greece does not have."

The PAC-2 was deemed as the leading asset in the anti-aircraft umbrella and its radar was expected to detect and track a variety of short-range threats. The PAC-2 will be bolstered by other U.S. systems. They include the improved Hawk anti-aircraft missile and the Stinger man-portable surface-to-air missile.

Officials said the PAC-2, Hawk and Stinger systems have been linked to a command and control facility that can both detect and track air threats and coordinate a response. They said the systems will protect such regions as Attiki, Evia and Viotia.

The anti-aircraft umbrella will be bolstered by constant patrols by fighter-jets in the Hellenic Air Force. Officials said the air force plans to deploy the U.S.-origin F-16 as well as the French-origin Mirage 2000.

Other aircraft assets will be the U.S.-origin T-6A Texan-2, a single-engine turboprop. Some of the assets will contain radar as well as aircraft early-warning and controls systems.

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