Exercise Report : Exercise Iniohos 2017 - Andravida, Greece
Exercise INIOHOS 2017
UAE Desert Falcons join Israeli, Greek and US F-16s in Greece
George Karavantos visited Andravida air base during the annual multinational exercise hosted by the Hellenic Air Force.
In 2017, from March the 27th until April the 6th, the medium-sized multinational exercise “Iniohos” hosted by the Hellenic Air Force took place again at the air base of Andravida, Greece. Contingents from the USAF and Israeli Air Force took part again, this year saw also the participation by the Italian Air Force and a newsworthy debut of the United Arab Emirates.
As explained in our “Iniohos 2016” report, the HAF Iniohos exercise has become an Invitex, inviting other air arms from around the world. The main goal of the exercise has always been the design and execution of COMAO operations and Electronic Warfare in a simulated hostile environment with real-life components producing the threat.
Within these 10 days the Hellenic Army performs their own large scale exercise called "Polifimos" and also the Hellenic Navy performs one called "Astrapi". These two exercises were scheduled to take place at the same time in order to make the whole scenario more realistic. The HAF cooperated with aerial assets from the Hellenic Army and the Hellenic Navy. All together they struck various target types, ranging from tanks and frigates to air bases or other high-value assets.
Every day around 130 sorties were flown from Andravida, while additional aircraft were joining the exercise from other bases in Greek territory. The forces were split into friends (Blue) and enemies (Red). Practically all the Greek Combat Wings from all bases were involved in this exercise, with most of the Greek aircraft simulating the enemy aircraft (Red Air) taking part from their own bases to avoid airspace congestion, but also to have the element of surprise. On each day, there were two waves of aircraft during the day with three hours between them, and two waves during the night. There was also a gap of three hours between night and the morning sorties. On a daily basis, also two smaller missions took place (“Extra Mission” and “Side Day”), mostly for environment training of the foreign participants.
This year’s participants once again included the USAF, but now with 12 F-16C Block 30s of the 93rd Fighter Squadron “Makos” of the 482nd Fighter Wing which are part of the 4th Division ASOG.
Also returning were the Israelis, this time with 12 F-16C/D “Barak 2020”, one G550 “Nahshon-Eitam” CAEW, and a Β707 “Re'em” tanker.
Another participant was the Italian Air Force with six AMX “Ghibli” of the 51° Stormo from Istana AB, Treviso.
But the special guests of this year’s “Iniohos” came from the United Arab Emirates’ Air Force, which participated with the most modern Vipers in the world, the F-16E/F Block 60 “Desert Falcons”. The F-16E/F is equipped with the highly capable AESA radar, the AN/APG-80, which is of special interest for the Greek Viper pilots, since there is the possibility that the Greek F-16 fleet will be upgraded with this radar. Apart from the F-16s, the Arabs utilised one of their A330 MRTT tanker aircraft, while their equipment and personnel travelled with C-130s but also C-17s.
Finally, many Cypriots officials joined the Greek officials this year to closely monitor the whole exercise.
Again, the deployment of the Hellenic Air Force in this exercise was enormous and consisted all of types of aerial assets of its inventory. Besides the fighter aircraft, AS332 Super Puma helicopters, UAVs, EMB-145H Erieye AEW and also the transport aircraft C-130 and C-27J took part in this exercise. An Ε-3Α AWACS of NATO was again supporting the exercise, operating from Aktio, in Preveza, the NATO AWACS base in Greece.
The Hellenic Navy participated with ships and frigates and S-70 helicopters, while the Hellenic Army took part with CH-47D Chinook and NH90 and AH-64A/DHA Apache attack helicopters, each performing different kinds of missions like attack and destruction of ground based and surface based targets. Completing this combat theatre was the involvement of the Ground-Based Air Defence: GBAD, and also Joint Terminal Attack Controllers: JTAC.
The main goal of the “Iniohos” exercise is to simulate as realistic as possible the so called "Battle Rhythm", which includes the design, the operation, the collection of data from the battle assessment and the debriefing for each mission.
The command of the aerial operations of all involved participants belonged to the Chief of the Hellenic Air Force General Staff, who was the officer scheduling the exercise in direct contact with the rest of the Chiefs of all armed forces inside a control room, called the White Cell. The Chief of the Hellenic Tactical Air Force was the officer conducting the exercise, while the Commander of the Air Tactics Center was the Exercise Director with tactical command of all the forces involved. Finally, the Commander of the Tactical Weapons School was the Director of Operations and had tactical control of the whole exercise.
During this year’s exercise all kinds of modern operations were designed and executed. These included SEAD/ DEAD, CSAR, Interdiction of Air Defences, Close Air Support. The missions were being performed autonomously or combined with others, and also included air refuelling support, dynamic targeting, strategic assaults, and air strikes against high value and Time-Sensitive Targets (TST).
The theatre of all these missions evolved to the entire Greek FIR. Some bombing raids with live weapons also took place on the ranges of Chrisoupolis and Kastelorizo island.
During the ten days the Battle Rhythm was very intense and the timelines had to be very precise and restrictive. As mentioned earlier daily sorties counted around 130, with in total more than 1000 flown.
As the previous Chief of Staff had envisioned, the goal for this exercise “Iniohos” is to become the most realistic and demanding exercise in Europe, able to provide all its participants with the highest level of training. In other words, a European “Red Flag” with a Greek stamp on it.
One thing is for sure, “Iniohos” 2017 again ups the standards for next year's exercise. The impression of all the participants was more than positive, so this exercise has strong potential for more air arms to join.
Report and photos by George Karavantos ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 5 June 2017