From March 28 to April 8 2022, the annual medium scale exercise, organized by the Hellenic Air Force (HAF), the “Iniochos 2022” took place at the headquarters of the 117th Combat Wing of Andravida (Greece) in the northwestern area of Peloponnese.
The exercise Iniochos 2022 served to increase the crews ability to interact with each other, applying the most modern operational tactics in a joint context, so as to be able to verify and refine every single aspect of the different assets present.
Geographically Greece with the particular conformation of its terrain rich in mountainous areas, coastal areas, the nearby sea with several islands and not densely populated areas, offers an ideal environment to simulate all types of air combat scenarios. In particular, even with low-altitude flight that is carried out to escape radar traceability, trying to remain hidden from ground-to-air defense systems, such as the SAM (Surface-to-Air-Missile) stations.
The types of missions, which involved the participating assets, were:
- Air operations versus Integrated Air Defense System (IADS)
- Offensive Counter Air/Airfield Attack
- Air Interdiction/Special Targets (bridges, power stations, vehicles, etc.)
- Anti-Surface Warfare
- Slow Mover Protection (SLOMO)
- Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR)
- Dynamic Targeting (DT)/Strike Coordination and Reconnaissance (SCAR)/Close Air Support (CAS)/Time Sensitive Targets (TST)
- High Value Airborne Asset (HVAA) Protect/Attack
In late 1980s, the Greek Air Forces (HAF) decided to perform a small scale tactical level exercise for their personnel with the aim of training them in planning and executing Combined Air Operations (COMAO) in a realistic, eventually to test and evaluate operational and tactical plans. Following the success of the training, the exercise was made annual, becoming an eagerly awaited event for its staff first and for foreign participants later. Over the years, the execution of the training has undergone various evolutions and involving various air bases up to the current system based only in the Andravida air base and a concept of medium scale exercise.
The operations are thus performed on a more realistic environment, 24h/7d (24 hours for 7 days), significantly increasing the level of personnel training, and since 2013 with the INVITEX (Invitation Exercise) form the HAF has opened the participation to other air forces as at the beginning the Israeli Air Forces (IAF) and the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) Special Forces (SOF) as Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC).
This exercise has been gaining more and more consideration for years and from time to time, more and more air forces are invited to take part, thus confirming its importance.
Air Forces invited
This year the invited participants for Iniochos 2022 came from 6 foreign air forces along with the local one:
- Greece, Hellenic Air Force with its F-16C/D, F-4E Phantom II, Mirage 2000-5 and 6 Rafale B/C (4 C-version and 2 B-version, arrived from Tanagra AFB);
- France, Aéronautique Navale with Dassault Rafale M and Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye (AEW) from aircraft carrier “Charles De Gaulle”:
- U.S.A., USAFE (United States Air Force in Europe) with 9 F-15E Strike Eagles 48th Fighter Wing from RAF Lakenheath, 1 MQ-9 Reaper 31° OG from Aviano AFB, and USS Truman with its F/A-18E SuperHornet;
- Italy, Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI) with 7 Tornado (4 IDS and 3 ECR) from 6° Stormo Ghedi AFB;
- Slovenia, 2x Pilatus PC-9M from Slovenina Air Force Military School – Letalska Sola;
- Cyprus, with Leonardo AW-139 from 460th Search And Rescue Squadron (460 MED);
- Israel, IAF (Israeli Air Force) with 11 F-16I Sufa from 201Sqn and 253Sqn of Sufa Division from Ramon AFB.
In addition to the guests listed above, the following also participated in the role of observers: Albania, Saudi Arabia, Austria, Canada, Croatia, Egypt, India, Kuwait, North Macedonia, Morocco and United Kingdom.
“We are here strengthening NATO partnerships and strengthening our war-fighting readiness”
Col. Jason A. Camilletti – 48th Fighter Wing Commander – RAF Lakenheath.
Exercise is divided into three phases:
- Phase 1: Detachment Deployment, 21-22 March 2022
- Phase 2: Execution Phase: 28 March – 7 April 2022
- Phase 3: Force Redeployment: 7-10 April 2022
During Execution Phase, Iniochos 2022, had joint operations as its program for the morning, the realistic training activities of the various forces involved, while in the afternoon the participants operated on individual missions.
In the days we were present, in addition to the interesting maneuvers, we had the opportunity to admire one of the emblems of military aviation history up close: the McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II.
Entered service in the early 60s with the US Navy, it had its baptism of fire during the Vietnam conflict, it still remains in service in some world air forces: Turkey Türk Hava Kuvvetleri/Turkish Air force 111° Filo, South Korea 153° Fighter Squadron in Suwon AFB, most likely in some Fighter Squadrons in Iran, and of course in Greece with HAF at 338th MDV in Andravida, thus writing almost 70 years of aviation history.
In conclusion, Iniochos 2022 demonstrated the need for joint exercises between the various air forces, as is the case for example with the NATO Tigermeet (which this year also took place in Greece) or the Anatolian Eagles which in Turkey also hosts air forces of Asian countries.
Interoperability between various nations can also help prevent tragic events such as those that are affecting Europe in recent months, but also improve communications and the operations of the forces involved in aid of their populations (such as between Switzerland and Italy with the „Odescalchi“ exercise).
Thanking the organization for hosting us for two days, the appointment in Greece is now postponed to next year, where we hope to be present again.
From Andravida AFB (Greece): Romano Riccardo & Rastello Stefano
Iniochos 2022 – Link:
Follow Riccardo and Stefano on their Youtube channel: R & S Aviation