Written by Vincent Chaput
The Greek skies will soon be dominated by the newly launched multipurpose Archytas drone. As geopolitical frictions with Turkey have reached a critical juncture in the Aegean Sea, Greek defence and security officials welcomed the development of the Archytas prototype with great enthusiasm in the face of the threat posed by the Bayraktar TB2 operating in Ukraine’s war. This is nothing new, as Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan spares no instant in criticising Greece despite both countries being NATO members. But the past few years have been marked by a surge in territorial clashes and acts of intimidation, as territorial waters have been continuously contested by both sides since the 1970s. Such reasons might explain Greece’s decision to equip itself with a new generation of high-performance combat UAVs.
The aforementioned Archytas model of UAV has been jointly developed and designed by the Hellenic Aerospace Industry (EAB) and the major Greek Universities of Aristotle, Democritus and Thessaly. It is believed to perform a great range of mission types, ranging from light military operations, including rescue operations, to the deliverance of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) goals. As the Hellenic Aerospace Industry’s Research Director Nikos Koklas stated, Archytas drones represent ‘a perfect fit for the protection of Greek territory and islands alike.’ Large distances between sparsely populated islands in the Sporades and the Cyclades are no longer seen as obstacles given Archytas’ fast deployment across the whole Greek territory. In addition to its vertical-take-off-and-landing (VTOL) function provided by four electric propellers, its system is reinforced with four struts that allow the drone to cover roughly 300 km at the cruise speed of 120 kph with a flight duration capacity of four hours and land almost everywhere without using runaways. Once all the required tests for flight parameters and mission functionalities will be completed by late October 2022, the Archytas drone is expected to be manufactured by the end of 2023 and then deployed by the Hellenic Armed Forces as early as March 2024.
Meanwhile, the unveiling of the new Greek surveillance drone has sparked a wave of interest from international observers and other EU Member States. This was due to Greece opting to develop its own surveillance drone programme independently from the joint EuroMALE project led by France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Lastly, the recent news that Greece received a $1,5 billion package from the US to modernize and upgrade its F-16 aircrafts is certainly a reminder for why a purely European defence project seems difficult to achieve in the short-term.
Gosselin-Malo, E. (2022, September 23). Greece unveils new surveillance drone to keep tabs on its islands. DefenceNews. Retrieved from: https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2022/09/23/greece-unveils-new-surveillance-drone-to-keep-tabs-on-its-islands/
Kokkinidis, T. (2022, June 16). Greece’s First Unmanned Aerial Vehicle “Archytas” Ready for Service. GreekReporter. Retrieved from: https://greekreporter.com/2022/06/16/greece-unmanned-aerial-vehicle-archytas-ready/
Peña, J. (2022, September 26). Greece unveils Turkish Bayraktar’s Mediterranean rival. Atalayar. Retrieved from: https://atalayar.com/en/content/greece-unveils-turkish-bayraktars-mediterranean-rival
Pons, J. (2022, January 29). Spain partners with Germany, France and Italy to build Europe’s largest military drone. Atalalyar. Retrieved from: https://atalayar.com/en/content/spain-partners-germany-france-and-italy-build-europes-largest-military-drone