110 Combat Wing
A former F-4E Phantom unit, 337 Mira is the only fighter squadron within 110 Combat Wing, the other unit flying UAVs. Operating the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Block 52+ and nicknamed Fantasma (Ghost), 337 Mira is based at Lárisa. It is primarily an all-weather interceptor squadron, but with a secondary fighter-bombing role. It gave up its F-4Es on 31st December 2005, reforming in May 2006 with F-16 Block 52+.
Cyprus Air Force
This year saw the Slovenian Air Force deploy two of their Pilatus PC-9M aircraft from the 152 Letalska Eskadrilja (152 LEESK - 152nd Fixed-Wing Squadron) from Cerklje ob Krki air base in the south-east of the country.
Eleven Pilatus PC-9s of a dozen originally delivered from 1995 in two batches equip the Slovenian Air Force, of which nine were later upgraded to PC-9M standard known as the Hudournik (Swift). The turboprop powered aircraft are used both as a trainer and in the light attack role using dumb-bombs, rockets and guns.
During Iniochos the two PC-9 aircraft were seen regularly operating as a pair at low-level, presumably providing close air support to ground operations and for CSAR operations.
ΗΝΙΟΧΟΣ 2022 Participants
AW139 Cyp. NG 460 MED
Rafale M FN Operating from CdG
E-2D FN Operating from CdG
F-4E HAF 338 Mira/117 Wing
M2000 HAF 331 Mira/114 Wing
F-16C/D HAF 337 Mira/110 Wing
F-16C/D HAF 330 Mira/111 Wing
F-16C/D HAF 341 Mira/111 Wing
F-16C/D HAF 347 Mira/111 Wing
F-16C/D HAF 340 Mira/115 Wing
F-16C/D HAF 343 Mira/115 Wing
F-16I IAF 201 Sqn
F-16I IAF 253 Sqn
G550 IAF 122 Sqn
Tornado IDS AMI 6 Stormo
Tornado ECR AMI 6 Stormo
PC-9M Slov. AF 107 Air Base
F-15E USAF 492FS/48FW
MQ-9 USAF 24AS/132 Wing, Iowa ANG (from Sigonella)
F/A-18E/F US Navy operating from Harry S Truman
The exercise is held as a two-week INVITEX at Andravida Air Base, overseen by the Kentro Aeroporikis Taktikis (KEAT – Air Tactics Center). The Air Tactics Center is an independent wing of the Hellenic Air Force, and was established in 1983 to provide advanced education via the already established Tactical Weapons School (Scholio Oplon Taktikis - SOT). Iniochos constitutes significant training elements in which JAP operations are launched in a 24/7 battle rhythm, with close to 1,000 sorties flown over the two-week period. In an effort to increase joint interoperability, land and maritime assets have also been combined into the exercise in recent years.
Hellenic Air Force
ΗΝΙΟΧΟΣ 2022 was based on a full-scale international conflict, with a large flying force tasked with NATO’s requirement to develop its training and exercises with more realistic, full-spectrum deterrence-focused scenarios. Engaging all levels of command, Iniochos continues to increase its focus towards exercise realism by investing in better threat presentation, dynamic scenarios and thoroughly precise event assessments which are now key elements of the exercise. Tactical units exercise on time-restricted planning and execution, with realistic attrition rates achieved among challenging scenarios which consist of multi-domain threats – the goal being to replicate a real conflict.
'Single Base Concept'
One of the Mirage 2000-5EG at Iniochos 2022 gets airborne for a 4-ship mission
Israeli Air Force aircraft are common sights at Iniochos exercises - 2022 seeing a number of F-16I 'Sufa' from two Ramon based squadrons attend. This particular aircraft wears the markings of 201 'The One' Squadronas it heads out for an afternoon mission
support measures, and a communications intelligence suite. The Israeli Air Force operates two aircraft in this particular configuration.
117 Combat Wing
'Home of the Spook'
117 Combat Wing at Andravida air base is the last to operate the mighty F-4 Phantom II in HAF service. The first F-4E arrived here back in April 1974 to join 338 and 339 Squadrons. As the HAF modernizes, the Phantom has gradually reduced in numbers, with 338 'Aris' now the sole remaining squadron operating the type. A total of 36 aircraft underwent an Avionics Upgrade Program (“Peace Icarus 2000”) and are known as F-4E (AUP).
'152 Letalska Eskadrilja'
Slovenian Air Force
Exercise Iniochos 2022
It was reported by Greek media outlets that Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jets had violated Greek air space during Iniochos, disrupting the exercise. According to those reports, the Turkish fighter jets entered Greek airspace in an area that had been ‘blocked out’ with air and naval directives - a NOTAM (Notice To Airmen) and a NAVTEX (Navigational Telex). The incident reportedly took place east of the island of Karpathos at 11:15AM on Tuesday, 29 March – resulting in the Spanish NATO commander being forced to suspend the exercise, later prompting an internal NATO investigation. Turkish aircraft violating Greek airspace is far from uncommon, HAF fighters regularly being 'scrambled' to intercept Turkish intrusions. However, the fact that it occurred during a NATO exercise will not go unnoticed amongst the other NATO allies.
A 338 Mira F-4E powers out of Andravida during Iniochos 2022, its two General Electric J-79 turbojet engines, each producing 17,900lbs of thrust with afterburner.
Although a dated platform, the F-4E (AUP) is still a very capable aircraft. The Weapons Systems Officer (WSO) can utilise the aircraft's APG-65 mutli-mode radar, which provides good situational awareness and an increased probability of an air-to-air 'kill' - whilst also providing an accurate attack picture for air-to-ground missions using the Rafael AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening targeting pod.
A Lockheed Martin F-16C Block 52+ from 337 Mira/110 Combat Wing gets airborne from Andravida. Nicknamed Fantasma (Ghost), 337 Mira is based at Lárisa, the capital city of the Thessaly region
The exercise covers large areas of high terrain, coastal and deep blue sea environments, with air-to-air, fixed and mobile surface-to-air threats protecting either an area or a route, with adversary aircraft that are equipped with weapons such as the AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile).
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) and the Hellenic Air Force have a long history of cooperation - the two air forces seeing the Iniochos exercise as a direct continuation of their training, with the IAF placing an emphasis on combined training exercises with its western allies.
The IAF brought along 11 Lockheed Martin F-16I Sufa (Storm) from 201 'The One' Squadron and 253 'Negev' Squadron, both from Ramon Air Base.
Seen right is a Sufa from 201 Squadron departing Andravida for an afternoon mission.
adversaries were developing robust Anti-Access/Area Denial capabilities in response to NATO’s capabilities. At the same time as many NATO members were reducing their defence budgets, the HAF was continuing to search for effective solutions for their aircrew training, but without sacrificing the quality of its combat training.
Three AgustaWestland (now Leonardo) AW-139 helicopters were delivered to the Cyprus Air Force in late 2010/early 2011, primarily for use in the Search and Rescue (SAR) role. However they are also used for firefighting duties, aerial photography, medevac taskings, para-dropping and supporting tactical operations.
The Hellenic Air Force’s Scholio Oplon Taktikis use their expertise to ensure every mission is analyzed and reconstructed, and every event is assessed using multiple data sources and specifically designed shot assessment software - delivering a reliable and valid training outcome. Increased realism, combat readiness, and sharing knowledge are the core values of Iniochos, employing the latest tactics, with ‘live’ Surface-to-Air threats in conjunction with robust Air-to-Air adversaries. All missions are supervised by the SOT, which assures that the planning, execution and debriefing phases meet the objectives of the exercise.
The six Tornados used by the AMI at Iniochos were from 154º Gruppo, equipped with the Tornado IDS, and 155º Gruppo equipped with the Tornado ECR.
Although they look similar, the ECR models are identifiable by the lack of the nose-mounted cannon seen on the IDS version, plus the ECRs of 6 Stormo carry a sharksmouth and a 'lightning flash' on the vertical fin (be
The Aeronautica Militare Italiana (AMI – Italian Air Force) have also been regular attendees at Iniochos exercises, with the Panavia Tornado also being a regular participant. This year saw 6º Stormo from Ghedi, bring three Panavia Tornado IDS (Interdictor Strike) and three ECR (Electronic Recconaissance) versions to the exercise.
Led by Lt. Colonel Nicola Rotondo, the AMI’s primary goal for Iniochos was to consolidate the Tornado’s capabilities in multinational joint operations. Flight operations were conducted over sea and land, executing COMAO missions involving SEAD, CAS, DCA (Defensive Counter Air) and OCA (Offensive Counter Air) operations, flying to as low as 500ft.
The IAF started preparing several months ahead of the exercise, holding aerial training for three weeks, with each week targeting a specific element - starting with flights using only the English language, to flying in mission-specific formations, according to the international flight doctrine. Flying in a different country is challenging but also adventurous. During the first flights there is an element of uncertainty, seeing that everything runs differently - the language, the protocols, doctrine, and more. It's excellent combat practice for the Israeli aircrews in terms of uncertainty, flying in an unfamiliar location and against advanced threats.
Brig. Gen. Amir Lazar, head of the IAF’s air division, described it thus; “A cornerstone of our training program. This is the eighth year we have participated in Iniochos — an exercise with quality training, the sharing of knowledge, and opportunities to improve."
The Single Base Operations (SBO) Concept was adopted for Iniochos in 2013, with aircraft such as the McDonnell-Douglas F-4E Phantom II seen in the photograph left, much in evidence at the time, when it equipped three HAF Tactical Air Force squadrons. The same concept is still in use today, with the exercise also being upgraded to simulate medium-scale Joint Air Power (JAP) operations, including missions across the full spectrum of the air operating domain. The new concept was first tested by the HAF in 2014, launching the exercise as an INVITEX in 2015 – with the Israeli Air Force (IAF) and United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) participating, along with US Special Operations Forces (SOF) providing Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs).
'From Small Beginnings'
“Iniochos 22 brings together hundreds of participants in face-to-face planning, briefing and debriefing, thus maximizing training benefits and promoting cooperation and exchange of ideas on tactics, between participants with different experience,” said Brig. Gen. Nikoloas Kokkonis, Hellenic Air Tactics Center commander. The exercise exposes the participants to a multiple threat environment such as Anti-Access Area denial, where long-range surface-based air defence systems, 4th generation ‘Red’ aircraft and tactical ballistic missiles, form a multi-layer challenge for Allied forces. The modern operational environment is dynamic and complex and in order to take control of it, we need to develop and maintain operational agility and synergy, which will allow us to employ, whenever is necessary, air power, across domains in the most effective way,” Kokkonis added.
The Israeli Air Force Gulfstream G550 Nachshon Eitam from 122 Squadron based at Nevatim was generally the first aircraft to depart and the last to return when it was involved in missions. The aircraft is equipped with a Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW) system — comprising conformal phased-array radars on both sides of the forward fuselage. Equipped with the Israel Aerospace Industries/Elta EL/W-2085 multi-band phased array radar, it provides 360 degree coverage combined with advanced electronic
Using BVR (Beyond Visual Range) tactics and carrying modern Electronic Warfare and radar capabilities, opposing forces present a multi-layered Integrated Air Defence System (IADS) employing long or medium-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) Systems, as well as a considerable number of short-range air-defence systems. Given the high level of the HAF personnel and their capability to conduct exercises involving a
347 squadron has a dual air defence and ground attack role, and was the first Block 50 user in the Hellenic Air Force. With the first pilots and maintenance personnel having undertaken their training at Luke AFB, Arizona, it took responsibility for the acceptance of all Block 50 F-16s prior to 341 Mira reforming on the type when personnel and assets were equally divided between the two Squadrons.
With clear skies now set, #061 from 347 Mira trundles down the taxiway towards the runway as part of a 4-ship flight.
This year’s exercise saw the Israeli Air Force continue its participation, along with other regulars at previous Iniochos exercises such as the U.S Air Force and Italian Air Force. They were joined by French Navy assets operating from the carrier Charles de Gaulle, and the Slovenian Air Force, who participated for the first time with their Pilatus PC-9M aircraft. Most noticeable however was the absence of the United Arab Emirates Air Force, who have become regulars at Iniochos in recent years. Other noticeable absences were the lack of the Hellenic Air Force’s newly acquired Dassault Rafale fighter jets from 332 Mira, presumably due to the squadron having not achieved the required level of readiness to participate, along with the F-16s from 116 Combat Wing at Araxos, although it may be that they operated from their home base. Either way it is strange, as there were less aircraft involved this year than at previous events and in the past the 116 Combat Wing F-16s have flown from Andravida along with the other HAF assets.
The non-flying element of Iniochos saw Austria and Canada’s special forces personnel participate in the exercise, along with observers from Albania, Croatia, Egypt, India, Kuwait, Morocco, Republic of North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom.
Cloudy skies and sand from the Sahara plagued this year's exercise, often causing missions to be scrubbed and rescheduled. Fortunately we still managed to capture some nice images when the weather was more typical of Greek skies, albeit that the Mirage 2000-5EG #552 had to avoid some birds during take-off at the start of this particular mission
it somewhat subdued on the low-viz scheme worn by the aircraft). The Tornado ECR aircraft above from155º Gruppo 'Pantere Nere' (Black Panthers) is caught as it departs for a mission during the first day of Iniochos
limits of our agility and honing our readiness, all in lockstep with our allies and partners. This training provides our wider team valuable, realistic opportunities to train for today’s fight - so if ever called upon, we can win.” In the image above, an F-15E heads out for a late afternoon mission on the first day of Iniochos 2022.
In the photo above, a 330 Mira F-16C from 330 Mira heads out for an afternoon mission as part of a 4-ship. The aircraft wears the traditional 'Aegean Ghost' blue/grey camouflage pattern adopted by the Hellenic Air Force many years ago.
In the photo right, another F-16C from the same mission is seen blasting out of Andravida, its General Electric F110-GE 100 afterburning turbofan utilising all of its 29000lbs of thrust to get the aircraft airborne.
The Hellenic Air Force operates a large number of Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcons, many of which are Block 50/52 standard such as the F-16C above, wearing the markings of 341 Mira, part of 111 Combat Wing at Nea Anchialos Air Base
48th Fighter Wing
Major Idan, the Israeli Air Force deployment's Technical Officer stated; "We started preparing (for Iniochos) in December (2021). This is the first time since 2018 that squadrons from Ramon Air Base have deployed for an exercise of this kind. This required comprehensive planning. We are looking forward to seeing the foreign air forces and practicing with them. It is satisfying to see aircraft take off, talk with the aircrews when landing and making sure they are prepared in the best way. All the preparations we did manifest themselves, and it is astonishing".
Once again Greek skies over the western Peloponnese echoed to the sound of fast-jets as the annual exercise Iniochos took place between 28 March and 7 April. The exercise takes its name from the Charioteer of Delphi, also known as Iniochos (Ηνίοχος). Iniochos is an important opportunity for the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) to train alongside Greece’s allies, both improving the relationships that underpin alliances and creating opportunities to refine the critical skills that enhance the HAF’s interoperability.
Both 340 & 343 Mira operate the F-16C and D versions of the Fighting Falcon from Souda Air Base in Crete. 340 Mira wears yellow/black checks on the fin (photo above), whilst 343 Mira is adorned with a blue fin band with Gold Stars (photo left)
341 Squadron reformed in 1998 with the F-16 Block 50 in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) role. However, the squadron also operates in the air defence role, as do all HAF fighter squadrons - in fact the squadron was the first ever Hellenic Air Forces’ unit evaluated as an Immediate Reaction Force (IRF), and later as a NATO Reaction Force (NRF). One of the unit's F-16C Block 50s is seen left as it head's down the taxiway to the EOR (End of Runway) for its first mission of the day. Soon Velos 01 will be cleared for take-off and the F-16 will take to the air.
variety of weapon systems within one of the largest exercise areas in Europe, Iniochos is one of the largest and most competitive exercises in Europe and the Mediterranean region, providing participants with a high level of training and a unique experience. Aircraft such as the Panavia Tornado ECR operated by 6 Stormo of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (above) operate in the Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD) role, using a combination of their RecceLite reconnaissance pods and the AGM-88 air-to-ground HARM (High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile) - enabling them to detect, locate and neutralize mobile enemy air defence radar systems. A total of 16 Tornado IDS were converted to Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR) configuration and are known as the EA-200 in AMI service.
RAF Lakenheath deployed 14 Boeing F-15E Strike Eagles from the 492nd Fighter Squadron, the aircraft departing Lakenheath on 21 March, arriving at Andravida the following day. General Jeff Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa told the press; “The training Iniochos 2022 provides to our joint, multinational force really embodies the way we want to do business throughout the European theater: always pushing the
337 Mira operate both the single-seat F-16C and two-seat F-16D version of the Fighting Falcon
The 48th Fighter Wing are no strangers to Iniochos, having participated in the exercise on previous occasions. The 492nd Fighter Squadron participated in 2018, this year's event seeing their return to the Greek mainland for the exercise. The image right, shows one of the Strike Eagles heading out for a morning DACT mission
115 Combat Wing
Located on the island of Crete, this former LTV A-7H Corsair II operator took delivery of its first Block 52+ F-16 back in 2003. Aside from its operational requirements the Wing also provides the aircraft and crews for the HAF's 'Zeus' F-16 flight demonstration team.
340 Mira 'Fox' was the first unit to receive the Fighting Falcon in March 2003, followed by 343 Mira 'Stars' in July 2003.
We would like to thank the following people for their assistance in helping us complete this article:-
James Cuttriss (Defence Section, FCO, Athens)
Caroline Makropoulos (Defence Section, FCO, Athens)
Hellenic Air Force General Staff
114 Combat Wing
114 Combat Wing is based at Tanagra and has two squadrons within the Wing. Up until very recently both squadrons operated versions of the Dassault Mirage 2000. 331 Mira 'Theseus' continues to operate the Mirage 2000-5, whilst 332 Mira 'Hawk', which was equipped with the older Mirage 2000EG/BG, is currently undergoing conversion to the Dassault Rafale. Only 331 Mira participated in Iniochos this year, sending three 2000EG and one two-seat BG version to Andravida. 332 Mira did not participate presumably due to the squadron not having achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC).
Despite its age, the Panavia Tornado is a very capable aircraft and one that is still impressive to observe, particularly departing with the 'burners in full flow. #MM7073 seen right, is one of three IDS versions the AMI brought along to Iniochos 2022.
6º Stormo at Ghedi is the sole AMI wing continuing to operate the aircraft, though it is due to start re-equipping with the F-35 Lightning in due course.
'The Sword of David'
Israeli F-16I Sufa
In order to achieve the objectives of the exercise, the SOT oversees the missions from scenario planning to debriefing and makes certain that they cover the full spectrum of missions currently performed by the HAF, the exercise curriculum including the following air operations: Offensive Counter Air (OCA); Air Defence Operations (ADO); Counter Surface Force Operations (CSFO) including Air Power Contribution to Land Ops (APCLO) and Air Power Contribution to Maritime Ops (APCMO); Reconnaissance; Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR); Precision Strikes against Sensitive Targets; and High Value Airborne Asset (HVAA) missions.
This year’s exercise was divided into three phases:
• Phase 1: Detachment Deployment, 21-22 March 2022
• Phase 2: Execution Phase: 28 March – 7 April 2022
• Phase 3: Force Redeployment: 7-10 April 2022
Despite its age the F-4E Phantom in action is still a sight to behold. A battle proven classic and unique design, with raw power and smokey engines - what's not to love?! Even after landing with its brake chute billowing behind it the Phantom still looks the part.
111 Combat Wing
111 Combat Wing is based at Nea Anchialos and has three squadrons within the Wing. 330 Mira 'Thunderbolt' operates the oldest Lockheed Martin F-16s in the HAF inventory, the Block 30. 341 Mira 'Arrow' and 347 Mira 'Perseus' both operate the far more modern and capable Block 50 version of the Fighting Falcon. All three squadrons participated in Iniochos 2022.
Since its inception back in the 1980s, when the exercise was initially established as a Hellenic Air Force (HAF) small-scale tactical-level exercise, it was designed to create a realistic training environment for Greece’s fighter squadrons, tailored for training in Composite Air Operations (COMAO) in accordance with the Hellenic national defence policy, doctrine plans and tactics. To provide the most realistic training for its combat aircrews on a modern, reactive battlefield environment, the HAF developed the design, planning, execution and evaluation of the exercise, inspired by previous lessons learned. From its inception to 2013, the execution, and Command and Control (C2) were decentralized, allowing air platforms to operate from both their home bases and remote airfields; but during the last decade, potential
Iniochos 2022 worked to enhance multi-domain operations in support of land and maritime forces -participants training alongside ships and aircraft operating from the French and the US Navy Carrier Strike Groups deployed in the Ionian Sea and Aegean Sea, enhancing NATO’s ability to mount a credible multi-domain response, which is now more important than ever in the current challenging security environment NATO faces on its eastern flank. All air operations take place in the Athens Flight Information Region (FIR), from Corfu in the west to Kastellorizo in the east, and from Thrace in the north to Crete in the south. The exercise concept is based on a campaign scenario, adjusted to the current military advancements/developments and threat projection - the lessons learned from previous exercises consolidated and applied with each iteration.
As is the norm, most of the HAF fighter squadrons participated in this year’s Iniochos with the exception of the new Rafale fighter jets of 332 Squadron, although they did make a couple of brief appearances at Andravida for the Media Day. "For 10 days, Greece will be attracting the global military aviation interest by conducting one of the most demanding exercises, Iniochos 22, which combined with the multinational Special Operations Exercise Orion 22, sends a strong message of deterrence" said General Konstantinos Floros, Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff. "We focus on air superiority and interoperability with the Hellenic wings at the epicentre, contributing to regional security and stability," he added.
Kentro Aeroporikis Taktikis
With 332 Mira currently replacing the older Dassault Mirage 2000BG/EGs with the Dassault Rafale, 331 Mira will be the sole operator of the Mirage 2000 in HAF service. Part of 114 Combat Wing at Tanagra, this two-seat 2000-5BG is seen powering out of Andravida on the first day of Iniochos 2022
One of three Sufa squadrons based at Ramon, 253 'Negev' Squadron was the Israeli Air Force's first F-16I squadron to form, converting from the older F-16A/B Netz in February 2004. #482 is seen heading out on the first afternoon of Iniochos.
The copious threats and mountainous topography of Greece required the two participating units from Ramon Air Base, to plan their missions as precisely as possible and try to avoid encountering the hostile forces involved in the exercise.
The Cyprus Air Force (Διοίκησης Αεροπορίας Κύπρου) is the armed air wing of the Cyprus National Guard. The Air Force participated once again with a single Leonardo AW-139 helicopter drawn from 460 Squadron (Moira Erevnas Diasosis - MED), together with 16 personnel - which included aircrew and Special Operations Teams from the Army and the Navy. The AW-139 helicopter took part in a number of CSAR and air transport training missions, working with Special Forces personnel. Strengthening cooperation and interoperability between the participating countries was key to conducting training in a realistic environment, addressing the challenges encountered during real operations.