- Guilty and deafening silence from the Government and the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS).
- The DANIEL storm had been predicted with absolute accuracy by the meteorologists. Both for its duration and its intensity. Why wasn’t there any preparation at the base in Stefanovikio?
- If the extent of the destruction is confirmed, the cost could reach 2 billion euros, say Officers who have served in the Army Air Force.
- The MPs Alexandros Meikopoulos and Michalis Hourdakis and retired ambassador George Aifantis speak to Data Journalists.
By Paris Karvounopoulos
How did we get to the greatest disaster the Greek Armed Forces have suffered in peacetime? As it seems, this has happened at Stefanovikio, the base of the 1st Army Air Brigade, where the state-of-the-art Apache attack helicopters were stationed. The government and the Hellenic National Defense General Staff confirm the great damage with their deafening silence. They have been insisting on this tactic for a month, avoiding denying the information that at least 7 Apache helicopters were “trapped” for several days under the water that flooded Stefanovikio and reached a height of almost 7 meters! The measurement has been taken by the sensors of the Greek Marine Research Centre.
How did such a critical base for the Armed Forces, such as Stefanovikio, where apart from Apache, the older XIOYI helicopters, which are not decommissioned, and the second-hand KIOWA helicopters are also stationed.
The excuse of surprise cannot be accepted, especially after what we have seen happen in Israel, where there has been a real and thunderous surprise. Nevertheless, in the first hours of the Hamas invasion, the video was released showing the Israelis carrying F-16 fighter jets in platform trucks!
The DANIEL storm was predicted with absolute accuracy by the meteorologists. Both for its duration and its intensity. Wasn’t there any preparation at the base in Stefanovikio?
All information converges that at least as of Tuesday, September 5, the unit’s command was requesting instructions for the management of the weather phenomenon. There have been numerous communications but no clear response or order to relocate helicopters and protect critical equipment for their maintenance. Apparently, it was felt that the pumps on Lake Karla adjacent to the plant and also the pumps at the base could deal with the event.
On September 8, the Thessaly region proceeded to “break” the dam of Girtoni, to avoid uncontrolled flooding in Larissa. The base of Stefanovikio was not informed about this choice and realized it when the water in Lake Karla began to rise.
On September 9, photos were published from Stefanovikio showing Huey helicopters in the water, which had already risen quite a bit. There were also photos of “opened” Apache helicopters inside maintenance hangars!
Instead of issuing an immediate and urgent evacuation order for the base, the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS) is preoccupied with how the photos leaked, and through leaks, it continues to claim that there is no problem because the helicopters were ‘moved to a dry part of the runway’!” The government is following the “line” of HNDGS, and it appears that precious hours are being lost for Stefanovikio, the helicopters, and their equipment.
It was only on September 9 that the order was given for the transfer and transport of helicopters. Those helicopters that could fly were transferred to Larissa. What happened to the helicopters that were in the maintenance hangars?
The Hellenic National Defense General Staff and the government refuse to answer, but now this attitude is interpreted as a confirmation of the information that at least 7 helicopters are trapped.
Reports indicate that the pumps on which they had “relied” could not respond, some did not work at all. As a result, the water level rose very quickly and helicopters and equipment became trapped inside the sheds. How many helicopters are trapped? The question has been officially raised in the Parliament by the member of the Course of Freedom party, Michael Chourdakis (as of today, 11/10/2023, Michael Chourdakis has been, by decision of Zoe Konstantopoulou, excluded from the Central Committee of the Course of Freedom party). In his question, he mentions seven helicopters. Speaking to Data Journalists, he expresses his concern that this number may be higher!
The question of Mr. Hourdakis followed a question by Alexandros Meikopoulos, MP for Magnesia of SYRIZA, who does not rely on journalistic information, but what he says military men claim about what has happened in Stefanovikio.
The big problem is not just the helicopters being trapped. The loss of their maintenance equipment is a huge issue for the Army Air Force since even the helicopters that have been rescued and are stationed in Larissa will soon need maintenance.
Where are the helicopters now that were in the maintenance hangars during the flood days?
Can the Apache helicopters that have apparently been in the water for several days be salvaged? Officers who have served in the Army Air Force and are familiar with the helicopter find this extremely difficult. The Apache is an excellent supersonic helicopter with its only drawback being that it is very sensitive to even much milder weather conditions. With advanced electronic systems, it is questionable whether it is economically viable to replace them.
It is obvious that there are responsibilities. The question is whether they will be attributed. Both the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS) and the government have hidden behind “confidentiality”, something that cannot stand as an argument, not even as a joke. The number of helicopters we have is known worldwide… If we have lost 7 or 9 helicopters from them, is it possible for anyone to believe that this will remain a secret?”
If these numbers are valid, it is obvious that many things change even in the direction of the armament programs, since the damage to the Army Air Force must be restored. If the extent of the disaster is confirmed, the cost could reach 2 billion, say Officers who have served in the Army Air Force.
From Stefanovikio they insist that the necessary warnings had been given in time. Orders were not given and it is rather naive for anyone to believe that the relocation of an entire base like Stefanovikio could only be done by the decision of its commander. Will the chain of responsibility be traced?
The seriousness of the issue with Stefanovikio is evident from the meeting held earlier this week to decide which base will replace it! It is obvious that it is impossible, or at least very difficult, for the Stefanovikio to operate again. The Army Air Forces helicopters should acquire a new base, and this was precisely the subject of the meeting between the Hellenic National Defense General Staff (HNDGS) and the Hellenic Army General Staff (HAGS).