On april 1st the exercise INIOCHOS 2019 started on Andravida airbase for 2 weeks. Exercise INIOCHOS is an annual medium scale exercise (type INVITEX) based on the facilities of the AIR TACTICS CENTER at the Andravida Air Base, located in the Northwest Peloponnese.
The Exercise scenario adopts a Single Base Concept (execution of operations from a single Air Base), with the participation of all branches of the Armed Forces.
This year was an interesting year for the Air Tactics Center, because of the purchase of the F35A by the Turkey and the purchase of Russioan S-400 Surface to Air Missiles, there were some mayor political land strategic shifts in the Eastern Mediterranean. The exercise made a mayor step forward to have the F-35A participating.
The INIOCHOS Exercise was first conducted in the late 1980s, as a small scale tactical level exercise, tailored to the contemporary necessity for training in combined air operations in accordance with the Hellenic Air Force Doctrine. Over the next years, the success of the exercise led to the decision on establishing it as an annual event
The exercise objective was to train personnel in planning and execution of Combined Air Operations (COMAO) in accordance with the HAF Doctrine and National Plans in a realistic environment, in order to test and evaluate operational plans and tactics.
For the execution and conduction of the Exercise, the Hellenic Fighter Weapons School was deployed to Larissa, so as to form the White Cell in the facilities of the National Center for Air Operations. The White Cell was responsible for the optimal coordination and planning of the operations, while participating Aircrafts were also deployed to Larissa, at 110CW, from where they launched for their missions.
In 2005, the Exercise was decentralized, thus the participating Aircrafts were operating from their mother bases, while the White Cell, the planning and the coordination were taking place in the Air Tactics Center and the Fighter Weapons School facilities, in Andravida Air Force Base, implementing newly acquired means of Command and Control.
In November 2013, the decision was made to adopt a Single Base Concept, upgrading the exercise scale to medium and expanding the spectrum of operations with the objective to create a more realistic and Demanding environment, with an intensive and prolonged 24/7 battle rhythm, significantly increasing the level of training.
In April 2015, the exercise is being held for the first time in the form of INVITEX (Invitation Exercise), with the participation of the IAF and the USAFE Special Forces (SOF) as JTAC.
The objectove of Iniochos 2019 is the same for some years now :
To train personnel in the planning and execution of Combined Air Operations in a realistic environment.
During the exercise, a realistic battle environment is being created in order to provide a challenging and demanding high-threat environment for the participating Air Forces, together with the opportunity of using different kinds of target ranges (over land and sea) for absolutely realistic training conditions with the simultaneous inclusion of Hellenic and international Army and Navy exercises.
In order to achieve the objectives of the Exercise, the HFWS oversees the missions from scenario planning to debriefing and makes certain that they cover the full spectrum of missions currently performed by the HAF such as:
- 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
Since the first INVITEX in 2015, INIOCHOS exercise has attracted participation from USAFE, Israel Defense Forces, the United Arab Emirates Air Force, and the Italian Air Force and with increasing interest for participation by other countries.
Given the high level of the Hellenic Air Force personnel and the capability to conduct exercises, involving a variety of weapon systems within one of the largest exercise areas in Europe, the exercise «INIOCHOS» aspires to become the most competitive exercise in Europe and the Mediterranean region, and provide participants with a high level of training and unique experience of participation.
In this years exercise every squadron of the participating units had the oppertunity to be the Blue and Red Force.. With a minimum of 2 missions and a maximum of 3 missions flown each day for 2 weeks, about 100 sorties were flown each day.
To obtain the objective of the Iniohos exercise, the Fighter Weapons School at Andravida oversees the missions from scenario planning to debriefing and makes certain that they cover the current full spectrum of modern Air Warfare missions.
F-35A Lightning II
The 2019 edition saw some very special guests. F-35A’s Lightning II’s participated. The Lightnings, in total six aircraft, came from 13° Gruppo / 32° Stormo ‘Armando Boetto’ at Amendola.
The F-35As carried radar reflectors of the Luneburg type, which increase radar cross section (RCS) not only during the transition to and from the Andravida airbase but also throughout their participation in the exercise.
As part of large strike packages the 5th generation F-35As carried out joint missions alongside the other “legacy” aircraft, including the 3rd generation Hellenic Air Force F-4Es. In fact, the Lightning is equipped with both the Multifunction Advanced Data Link and Link 16, used only as a “backdoor” that allows the F-35 to communicate with legacy aircraft and perform the function of “enhancers” of previous generation platforms.
Though the F-4E Phantom is a 3th generation fighter, it carries avionics wich are almost the same as the block52 F-16’s flying with the Hellenic Air Force.
The F-35s flew also side-to-side with the Tornado ECR a variant of the baseline Tornado equipped with electronic warfare equipment and weapons for the suppression of enemy air defences and for electronic and tactical reconnaissance, that the Lightning II is expected to replace in the future. The Tornado ECRs performed several SEAD and DEAD (Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses) in a complex scenario in which Hellenic Land and Sea forces simulated to be enemy threats.
The Iniochos exercise will again being held in 2020 at Andravida. Known already is that the exercise attracts more and more countries willing to participate.
Nothing much is said about lessons learned in this years exercise but one thing is for sure, all participating units had a perfect opportunity to fly with and against unique units in the most beautifull surroundings Greece could offer.