English translation by Frank McMeiken
The “Iniochos 2018” exercise was an event organised by the Greek Air Force, and was conducted from the air base at Andravida.
The exercise was divided into four phase, an initial preparatory phase, a second phase that ran from 5 to 7 March and was concerned with the positioning in of the assets, the third executive phase, between 12 and 23 March, during which was organised a “Media Day” on 20 March, and the final operational phase, which is focussed on the dispersal of all the participants.
Andravida is the base of the Air Tactics Centre and the 117 Combat Wing.
The first edition of the “Iniochos” was staged at the end of the 1980s. The initial scope of the exercise was the organisation and operational planning of COMAO (Composite Air Operations) in accordance with the procedures and plans of the Greek national defence structure. In 2013 the Air Force decided to change its approach to training activities, taking account of the evolving global scenarios, adapting the programme to the new models of safety, and developing interoperability and standardisation with the aviation elements of allied air forces. The exercise also seeks to promote new capacities for the integration of tactics and procedures with the land and naval components, to develop and integrate modern assets into the new combat scenarios, and to prepare Greek aircrew for future air operations in complex combat environments.
In 2014 there was a further development of the concept of the exercise with an increase to a medium scale operation together with a change from the use of diverse air bases to the concentration of the assets on one single airfield. The concept of utilising just a single base afforded the advantage of gathering hundreds of military personnel with a wide range of experiences into a single point where they could closely engage with each other, collectively undertaking all the mission planning, briefing and debriefing, and gaining the maximum benefits from the collaboration, additionally promoting cooperation and the exchange of ideas on the tactics to be employed.
The exercise was characterised by an intense rhythm, during which participants must manage and test all the aspects of their operational capacity in supporting the operation, maximising operational activity and the employment of the personnel. Moreover, the participants were exposed to a range of hostile environments, with multiple threats, in areas where, for example, access was not possible due to the presence of 3rd generation air defence systems.
In the present situation of instability, air forces are required to possess the widest range of interoperability capacities and abilities to deploy outside national borders than were ever envisaged in the past, a precise response to a complex global scenario that can only be maintained through dedicated training.
Exercise Iniochos 2018 involved the utilisation of a vast volume of Greek airspace and land areas, enabling a wide range of operations, including:
- Air operations versus Integrated Air Defense System (IADS)
- Offensive Counter Air / Airfield Attack
- Air Interdiction / Special Targets (bridge, power stations, vehicles, ecc.)
- Anti Surface Warfare
- Slow Mover Protection (SLOMO)
- Combat Search and Rescue CSAR)
- Dynamic Targeting (DT) / Strike Coordination and Reconnaisance (SCAR) / Close Air Support (CAS) / Time Sensitive Targets (TST)
- High Value Airborne Asset (HVAA) Protect /Attack
Participating in the air operations were:
- Hellenic Air Force con F 16, F 4E, Mirage 2000-5 ed EMB 145H AEW&C
- Israeli Air Force con F 16C
- Italian Air Force con Tornado IDS
- Royal Air Force con Typhoon FGR4
- Cyprus National Guard con AW 139
- United Arab Emirates Air Force con Mirage 2000-9EAD
- United States Air Force con F 15E
Some 76 were involved, flying more than 1,000 missions in nine days of operations.
The scenario was initiated by a crisis situation that developed into a full scale war, and the training programme of the participants was tailored to respond to this development, involving both day and night operations.
The crews were exposed to a situation of continuous conflict with a continuous flow of masses of information aimed at recreating all the aspects of a modern war, requiring flexible and responsive tactics and rapid decision-making capacity in a continually evolving situation.
To ensure that the operations were realistic, and to verify the results of the missions, the Greek Air Force Fighter Weapons School engaged its own instructors to serve as supervisors.
The author would like to thanks the Lt. Col. Tsitoumis of Greek Air Force
Images and text by Giovanni Mattioli
Produced by Giorgio Ciarini