The origins of the Iniochos exercise lie in a national exercise designed to sharpen the skills of Hellenic Air Force pilots first held in 1988. When looking for a name for this exercise the HAF looked towards the ancient past of Greece and called it Iniochos or charioteer – the ancient forebear of today’s highly skilled fighter pilot. The initial planning of Iniochos was for an single base exercise to provide advanced training in planning and conducting Composite Air Operations, better known as COMAO. The early Iniochos exercises were based solely on Greek operational doctrines but as time went by the accent shifted towards developing interoperability between HAF units and air forces of allied nations, the pursuit of joint air-sea-land operations, develop means to integrate legacy aircraft and equipment with modern hardware in a modern battlefield scenario and to prepare aircrew for operations in a contested environment.
The Hellenic Air Tatics Center (ATC) based at Andravida Air Base is responsible for the mission planning during the Iniochos exercise and is able to select different scenarios from the full spectrum of missions currently performed by the Hellenic Air Force.
Some of these missions are:
- 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
81 fighter aircraft from seven allied nations have been deployed to Andravida and flew more than 1000 missions during the period of the exercise in nine operational day.
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Andravida Air Base houses 117 Combat Wing and the Air Tactics Center. It is the Air Tactics Center that runs Iniohos. As Colonel Antonios Panidis, Air Tactics Center commander explains: “The single base concept INVITEX , which was implemented for the first time in 2014, brings together hundreds of participants in face to face planning, briefing and debriefing thus maximizing training benefits and promoting cooperation and exchange of ideas on tactics between participants with different experience. The exercise is characterized by an intense battle rhythm that is designed to test all aspects of operational capability of supporting a high tempo of operations and maximizing the operational use of limited air assets. Participants are exposed to multiple threat environments such as anti-access area denial: where long range Surface based air defense systems, 3rd generation Red aircraft and TBM form a multi-layer challenge for Allied forces. Iniochos also leverages the exceptional flying environment of Greece, which displays large volume of airspace and a variety of terrain to present 4 distinct theaters of operations.” The Iniochos scenario begins with a crisis situation that gradually escalates into full war and is divided into four operational phases:
- PHASE 1: PREPARATION
- PHASE 2: FORCE DEPLOYMENT: 5-7 March 18
- PHASE 3: EXECUTION PHASE: 12-23 March 18
- HOT WASH UP: 23 March
To enhance further realism, Iniochos is executed together with Hellenic Army exercise Polifimos and Hellenic Navy exercise Astrapi.
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No less than 81 aircraft from seven allied nations took part in the 2018 edition.
The Hellenic Air Force participated with eight of their F-16 squadrons. Participating units came from all over Greece: 330, 341 and 347 Mira from Nea Anchialos, 335 and 336 Mira based at Araxos, 337 Mira from Larissa, and 340 and 343 Mira based at Souda Bay.
Not only the frontline F-16’s from the Hellenic Air Force participated in Iniochos 2018. Mirage-2000’s from 114PM based at Tanagra and the old -but still going strong!- F-4E Phantom were part of the large Greek participation. An EMB.145 (used for electronic warfare) from 380 Mira operated from its homebase Elefsis.
Besides the Greek contingent also a small delegation from Cyprus was present with a single AgustaWestland AW-139 for Combat Search and Rescue. The helicopter only participated in the first week of the exercise. Like previous years, the United States Air Force Europe (USAFE) was well represented. This time with thirteen F-15E Stike Eagles from 492th Fighter Squadron; based at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom. Other NATO allies who joined this large scale exersice were the Italian Air Force with their Tornado IDS fighters from Ghedi and the Royal Air force with their Typhoon FR4 fighters based at RAF Coningsby.
Far less seen in Europe, but becoming a familiar look at Iniochos is participating aircraft from the Middle East. The Israeli Air Force (IAF) was present with four F-16C ‘Barak’ fighters from 117 Squadron based at Ramat David; while the United Arab Emirates sent 6 Mirage-2000-9’s from 71 Squadron based at Al Dhafra Air Base.
With such a diverse participation, it has become clear that the aim of Iniochos to become the largest multinational exercise in Europe is well on its way!