On the 20th March 2018, MAR was invited to attend the media day organised by the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) for the military exercise ‘Iniochos’ that took place at Andravida air base in Greece. Iniochos is an annual exercise whose objectives are to:

  • Provide realistic training, which is achieved by creating a realistic Battle Environment: Participating personnel are exposed to an intensive battle rhythm with realistic attrition rates and challenging scenarios that include multiple modern threats and real time live injects tailored to produce the fog of war and the friction effect which is expected to dominate the modern battlefield and test both the physical and psychological endurance of the modern fighter.
  • Accurate Shot/Event Assessment: This is achieved with the use of on-board and off board tracking data, sensors and specialized debriefing software which is leveraged for the reconstruction of the mission by experienced Fighter Weapons School instructors that oversee the debriefing process. [1]

Since 2015, the exercise has become an INVITEX exercise allowing foreign air forces to participate and train with the Greek Air Force, thus helping to build relations and interoperability between allied air forces in the region. This year, the invited countries included the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Italy, United Kingdom, Israel and Cyprus.

The Greeks participated with a variety of assets belonging to the air force, army and navy. The assets from the air force operating from Andravida Air Base included HAF F-16 BLOCK 30/50/52+/M, F-4, M-2000, and EMB-145H AEW&C. A visiting Hercules, bringing distinguished and high ranking officials to the media day, was also noted at the base.

As for the foreign nations, the United Arab Emirates brought along 6 Mirage 2000-9s, the United Kingdom brought 6 Eurofighter typhoons, the Italian Air Force supplied 6 Tornados, the United States brought 13 F-15s from RAF Lakenheath, and Israel brought along 4 F-16C Barak aircraft.

As we entered the gate on Tuesday morning, the coaches took us to a spot close to the runway to witness the mass launch of the first wave of the exercise planned for that day. After some confusion as to the direction the aircraft were going to take off/land, we found a good spot by the runway and we took loads of pictures of the participating aircraft. Later on we positioned ourselves for the landings, and were very surprised as to how close we were allowed to stay by the runway, merely a few metres away from the centre of the runway!

Following some debate, we were allowed to position ourselves on the other side of the airfield in order to better capture the afternoon and evening launches. The weather turned out to be brilliant in the afternoon, and personally I witnessed some of the best lighting conditions I have ever seen while covering military exercises. To our delight, the Israelis that had not flown in the morning came out to fly in the afternoon and carried out spirited takeoffs that left all of us in awe.

All in all it was a great day out for media and photographers and I would personally like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the Hellenic Air Force for organising the media day and for allowing us access to such a great exercise.

[1] https://www.haf.gr/en/structure/htaf/air-tactics-center/iniohos/