The birth of “Zeus” – The making of Hellenic Air Force’s F-16 Block 52+ through previously unpublished photos


Pierre Kosmidis

A full photographic testimony from the making of “ZEUS”, the Hellenic Air Force’s F-16 Block 52+ solo demo aircraft, is published for the first time.


The F-16 demonstration team “ZEUS” displays Hellenic Air Force’s air power to the public and acts as ambassador for Greece, demonstrating the professionalism and the skills of all pilots in the Hellenic Air Force.

The team’s goals is to provide morale within the Air Force, sister services and to the Greek community, to inspire and recruit Greece’s best to join the service, strengthen and grow public trust and confidence in the Hellenic Air Force and retain the quality force we currently have.

The team’s call sign during the Demo Flights is “Zeus”, representing the father of the Olympian Gods of the Ancient Greek Mythology.


The aircraft used for the performance of air shows is an F-16C Block 52+

The “Zeus” solo jet display, emblazoned with a tail-fin design of the Greek god complete with lightning bolts, provided one of the highlights of the flying display at the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) from July 17 to 19 2015 and received the “Best Livery Award”.


The aircraft features extra fuel tanks above the wings which give it a unique and distinctive shape.

The display was provided by 115 Combat Wing based at Souda Bay on Crete.


The Wing has two squadrons of Block 52+ F-16s, some of the most advanced multi-role fighters within NATO, under its command.

During every flight of “ZEUS”, two people, who shaped its appearance, Dimitris Palassis and Alexis Kontiveis, are watching the aircraft with pride.

After all, “ZEUS” is the brainchild of Palassis and Kontiveis, who designed and implemented the award-winning concept of the King of Gods, according to ancient Greek Mythology.

“Our aim was to touch the hearts of ordinary people” says Alexis Kontiveis and adds: “An aircraft is a flying machine and the pilots and ground crew give their heart and soul, making it unique”


In these photographs, published for the first time, we witness first-hand the whole process of transformation of the F-16C Block52+ into “ZEUS”.Working hand-in-hand with the Hellenic Air Force personnel and command, Kontiveis designed the pattern and Palassis, with the assistance of a team of HAF experts, painstakingly transformed the F-16 into a unique work or Art.

Greece placed its first order for the Fighting Falcon in 1985, when it acquired Block 30 single-seat F-16C and two-seat F-16D models.

They started to arrive in service during 1989, forming, along with Mirage 2000s delivered that same year, a much-enhanced fighter force.

As the Fighting Falcon was improved, so Greece procured successive versions – first Block 50 jets, and then, in 2000 for delivery from 2005, the Block 52+ model.


It is the latter that equips the HAF’s F-16 demo team ‘Zeus’.

The Block 52+ F-16C is distinguished by the fuselage spine-mounted conformal fuel tanks that increase the aircraft’s fuel capacity, one of the model’s several upgrades over previous variants – the engine, radar, avionics and weaponry are all superior, too.


These are true multi-role aircraft, operating in the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles, the latter including the specialised SEAD (suppression of enemy air defences) task.

Three HAF squadrons are equipped with Block 52+ F-16C/Ds, two of them being part of 115 Combat Wing at Souda, which provides the ‘Zeus’ display aircraft.


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