NATO: Flight Lieutenant Vassilis Kontopoulos won first prize in tactical air battles
Flight Lieutenant Vassilis Kontopoulos was recently awarded the prize of the best military aircraft pilot by his NATO colleagues in the closing ceremony of the Albacete Tactical Leadership (TLP) programme in Spain. The TLP programme is a multinational operations-based initiative headquartered at Los Llanos Air Base near the Spanish city of Albacete. Military personnel and resident staff from ten NATO member-states, including Greece, participate in the TLP Programme. The programme has entered in its 39th year of operations and represents the spearhead of NATO’s tactical aircraft training drills. It contributes to improvement of NATO pilots, equipping them with the necessary skill sets required to adapt and respond to modern combat air-based challenges.
Greece participated in the last Albacete TLP Programme by dispatching members of the 337 Squadron of the 110th Wing Battalion which is stationed in Larissa. Of them Mr. Kontopoulos surpassed all benchmarks reaping the first prize in a multinational programme characterised by fierce competition and elite air tactical performance. The Greek pilot spoke to the Greek television and argued that
‘The mission went to Albacete TLP Programme in order to learn new things. We did not go out to show off or impress NATO colleagues.’
The Greek pilot ranked first among the forty contending NATO pilots who partaked in the TLP air combat lessons. He received the honourary title Best Warrior which means that Mr. Kontopoulos’ aircraft would lead the squadron into tactical air battles.
The Greek mission from the 337 Squadron was comprised by four F-16 Blocks 52+ series and remained in Los Llanos Air Base for two weeks to participate in all educational activities provided by the TLP programme. The 337 Squadron safely returned to Greece on 1st March.