Iniochos Exercise 2023 hosted in Greece by the Hellenic Air Force
Report and photos by Peter van den Berg
May 16, 2023
Between the 24th of April and the 5th of May 2023, the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) hosted another “Iniochos” exercise at Andravida Air Base in Greece. The objective of the exercise is to enhance international cooperation, synergy and interoperability amongst the participating Air Forces.
Greece is a mountainous country with many mountain ranges such as the Pindus, extending roughly 160 kilometers throughout Northern Greece, colloquially known as the spine of Greece. The highest point in the country is the Olympus Mountain with an elevation of 2917 meters above sea level.
Greece has been a democracy and a republic since 1974, after being an intermittent monarchy from 1832 onwards. It became the 10th country to join the European Economic Community, the EU its predecessor, and has been a member of NATO since 1952. The Hellenic Air Force has been organizing the INIOCHOS-exercise in recent years.
The “Iniochos” exercise is a medium scale multinational (INVITEX) exercise taking place from the facilities of the Air Tactics Center at Andravida Air Base. It is located in the Northwest Peloponnese. The very first editions of the exercise were held at Larissa AB in the late 80’s, home to the 110th Combat Wing. Over the years the exercise was expanded and since 2013 it has been held at Andravida with participating countries such as the USA, Israel, UK, the UAE, and Italy.
This year’s edition was also held at Andravida AB which is home to the 338 Squadron with the 117th Combat Wing. They are equipped with the F-4E Phantom and the SOT Tactical Weapons School.
With an average of three missions flown per day, the purpose of this exercise was to train personnel in the planning and execution of Combined Air Operations (COMAO) in accordance with the HAF method. It offers a platform to be able to plan in a realistic environment and to test and evaluate operational plans & tactics.
The exercise was first held in the form of an INVITEX (Invitation Exercise) in 2015 with the participation of many foreign countries and USAF Special Forces (SOF) as JTAC. Participants were both NATO and non-NATO.
Iniochos 2023 participants:
• France with the Rafale
• Italy with the Tornado (both IDS/ECR)
• Slovenia with the PC-9
• Greece with the F-4E, F-16C/D, Mirage-2000 and Rafale
• Cyprus with the AW139 Helicopter.
• India with the SU-30MKI
• Jordan with the F-16
• Saudi Arabia with the F-15SA
• Spain with the F/A-18
In addition to the participants above, the exercise also included Naval Units with several frigates, approximately 20 helicopters and multiple ground vehicles. 10 SAM-systems were deployed in addition such as MANPADS, ASRAD, HAWK and Patriot.
Scheduling & Missions
Missions were carried out in both day and night operations during which the low-flying area about 80 km from Andravida was extensively used.
The main goal of these missions are to provide realistic training by means of a realistic combat environment. This is done through assessment of recordings & event data. This tracking data is provided through on-board and ground-based sensors. The Fighter Weapon School instructors use this data in conjunction with specialized debriefing software to reconstruct the missions, keeping a close eye on the debriefing process.
The tactical command of the participating air forces is taken over by the HTAF chief, stationed in the ATC for this purpose. The HFWS oversees the missions from scenario planning to debriefing, ensuring the objectives of the exercise are met.
Iniochos’23 is divided into three phases:
• Phase 1: Detachment Deployment, 18 – 23 April 2023
• Phase 2: Execution Phase, 24 April – 4 May 2023
• Phase 3: Force Redeployment, 5-7 May 2023
The missions include:
- Offensive Counter Air (OCA)
- Defensive Counter Air (DCA)
- Strategic Air Operations
- High Value Airborne Asset (HVAA)
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
- Air Power Contribution to Land/Maritime Operations (APCL/MO)
- Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD)
- Reconnaissance, Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR)
- Dynamic/Time Sensitive Targeting (DST/TST)
- Urban Close Air Support (CAS).
The HAF’s newly established Synthetic Training Squadron had its participating debut during this year’s edition, utilizing F-16 Tactical Simulators for a number of missions, effectively expanding Iniochos to the virtual word.
Part of the exercise involved attacking ground-based air defense systems. Participating aircraft simulated the use of all types of ordnance. This ranged from GBU-12/-24 laser-guided bombs and JDAMs to GBU-16/-31 and AGM-65/-154. Especially the Greek and Indian participants seem to have extensively practiced taking out ground-based systems. Other ordnance involved were the AM39 anti-ship missiles such as carried by the Mirage 2000 and AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles.
The exercise does not go unnoticed as is evident from the fact that both Austria and Canada have sent observers. Austria participated with intelligence personnel and Canada with Air Battle Managers. In addition, there is interest from various countries to participate as an observer during Iniochos. Countries such as Bahrain, Germany, Montenegro, Morocco, Slovakia, and Tunisia have already shown their interest.
Iniochos 2023 proved to be a successful exercise with the HFWS overseeing the full spectrum of missions conducted from the start during scenario planning and the end to debriefing.
Iniochos aims to be one of the most competitive exercises in Europe and the Mediterranean, providing participants with a high level of training standards and a unique experience. This is made possible by the highly skilled HAF-personnel and their ability to conduct exercises which involve a variety of weapon systems within one of the largest training areas in Europe.