report by: Thierry Letellier
During this spring 2017, Andravida AB ; home of the F-4 Phantoms in the Hellenic Air Force Force hosted a medium-sized multinational exercise named “Iniohos 2017″ . Two more countries were added to the trio making Iniohos 2016 ( Hellenic Air Force , Israeli Air Force and USAF. USAFE gave the place to USAF – AFRC 93 FS F-16C / D ” Makos “. all of whom will be performing “complex air operations” as part of the drill.
“Multinational training engagements such as these strengthen our relationships, maintain joint readiness and interoperability, and reassure our regional Allies and partners,” . The results of “Iniohos” exercise 2016 having been excellent and once again the conclusions was drawn that this kind of exercise helps improving the joint operations capabilities. Chief of Hellenic Air Force General Staff, Lieutenant General Christos Vaitsis clearly stated that the goal is for “Iniohos” to become the largest multinational exercise in the European theatre.
The “Iniohos” exercise dates back to the late 80s, when it was established as a small scale air warfare exercise with only aircraft of the HAF. Initially the participating aircraft were deployed to 110 CW in Larisa, but in later years each aircraft operated from its home base. On November 2013, the Single Base Concept was adopted for Iniohos and the selected host for this kind of event was 117 CW at Andravida air base. It was in the same time decided that “Iniohos” would become an Invitex exercise, meaning that other nations could be invited to participate in the exercise . Last year, both the Israeli Air Force and USAF Europe accepted this invitation and deployed to Greece to take part in “Iniohos 2016”.
In 2016, there were twelve Israeli F-16C/D Fighting Falcons from different squadrons and one Gulfstream 550 for the Airborne Early Warning & Control role (AEW&C). The 2017 IAF delegation was quitely similar. During the exercise, flight crews of the five nations are practicing, air defense systems personnel, and Special Ops.All the members exchanged their views and ideas. Despite the fact that they speak different operational languages, they share common objectives. 117 Combat Wing was on more time the cornerstone of Iniohos 2017. The Tactical Weapons School (Scholio Oplon Taktikis – SOT) was founded in 1975 at Andravida air base. At that time it was called the Hellenic Air Force Fighter Weapons School tasked to provide advanced training and education for its elite pilots, mirroring United States Air Force philosophy as employed with their highly successful Red Flag exercises. In 1983 the Air Tactics Centre (Kentro Aeroporikis Taktikis – KEAT) was formed as an independent wing of the Hellenic Air Force (HAF).
117 Combat Wing was formed on March 4th, 1961 at Andravida airport, south of the air base at Araxos, the home of 116 Combat Wing. On April 5th, 1974, the first F-4E aircraft arrived for 117 CW, with deliveries completed by the end of the year. Under the 117 CW two squadrons were to fly the Phantoms, these are 338 and 339 Squadrons that remain operational to this day. 338 Squadron, named “Ares”, and 339 Squadron, named “Ajax”, were both formed in 1952 at Elefsis AB as Fighter Bomber Squadrons equipped with the F-84G Thunderjet, the first jet aircraft of Hellenic Air Force. Nowadays 338 Squadron’s primary role is air strike, while 339 Squadron is focused on interception.
The experience of 117 CW pilots over all those years forms the advantage over the opponent. Also another advantage to this old jet is the Litening targeting pod which offers capable passive sensors, in particular for CAS and support of CSAR missions. The saturated environment staged for the “Iniohos” sometimes favors older-generation aircraft such as the Phantom. These jets can take advantage of the chaos that typically prevails, with dozens of aircraft changing positions and altitudes, in order to overcome their inherent design drawbacks and still inflict damage to the enemy. Phantom crews know this very well. Their true weapon is their experience on the type and their well-development tactics.The revolution started by the F-4E back in the 1970s in the way the Air Force operated resulted in the establishment of new objectives and the development of advanced tactics that completely changed the tactical philosophy of the HAF. Still today, 40 years later, the Phantom remains an important part of the HAF’s air power and will continue to serve a vital role in the defense of Greece.
Globalairpower would like to thanks all the staff of Andravida AB for their superb contribution to the success of this media-day. I would also like to thank the HAF Spokesman, Lt Colonel Tsitoumis . I also would like to not forget the French Ambassy Defence Attaché for their precious help.