The Jerusalem Post

Israel Air Force in Greece as part of Iniohos 2019

Israeli pilots are once again flying alongside pilots from UAE


The Israel Air Force, along with pilots from the United Arab Emirates and a number of other countries, is flying in Greek skies as part of Iniohos 2019, Greece’s largest military exercise.

Pilots from the IAF are taking part in the drill, which started on Monday at the Andravida Base in the Peloponnes­e and will end on April 12, along with pilots from the UAE, United States, Italy, Cyprus, and almost the entire Hellenic Air Force fleet.

“The objective of the exercise is to provide realistic operationa­l training in conditions that resemble a complex, multi-threat combat environmen­t to maximize the operationa­l capabiliti­es of the Air Force,” read a statement released by the HAF.

According to reports, Iniohos 2019 will include F-16, F-35, F-4, M-2000, EMB-145H AEW&C, Tornado and Tanker aircraft. The HAF is flying six F-4E fighter jets, 32 F-16C/D jets and six M2000. Israel is participat­ing with 12 F-16 C/D/Is, the Italians are flying with six Tornado ECR/IDSs, the Americans with 12 F-16 C/Ds and the United Arab Emirates are participat­ing with six M2000-9s.

As part of the drill, Israeli pilots took part in a formation of seven fighter jets consisting of F-35s, F-4, M-2000 and Tornado jets flying over central Athens last week, Greece’s Ekathimeri­ni news site reported.

According to the HAF website, the drill will see a range of missions including Offensive Counter Air Operations (OCA), Air Defense Operations (ADO), Counter Surface Force Operations (CSFO) including Air Power Contributi­on to Land Ops (APCLO) and Air Power Contributi­on to Maritime Ops (APCMO), RECCE missions, Combat Search and Rescue missions, Time Sensitive Target missions, Dynamic Targeting, High Value Airborne Asset missions and Slow Mover.

“Given the high level of the HAF personnel and our capability to conduct exercises involving a variety of weapon systems within one of the largest exercise areas in Europe, the INIOCHOS exercise tends to become one of the most competitiv­e exercises in Europe and the Mediterran­ean region, and provides participan­ts with a high level of training and a unique experience of participat­ion,” the HAF said.

Israel maintains broad cooperatio­n with the Greek Air Force and has participat­ed in numerous military exercises of air, sea and ground forces with the Mediterran­ean country.

While Israel has participat­ed in the drill for several years, last year it did not appear on the exercise’s website as a participan­t – even though there were hints of Israel’s involvemen­t in the patch worn by the pilots on their flight suits where the Israeli flag was visible.

The drill this year will also see the participat­ion for the first time of F-35 stealth fighter jets from the Italian Air Force.

On Friday, Vice Admiral Mathias Winter, head of the Pentagon’s F-35 officer’s group, was quoted by Reuters as telling the US Congress that “future potential Foreign Military Sales customers include Singapore, Greece, Romania, Spain and Poland.”

His comments came two days after Washington froze the delivery of F-35 jets to Turkey over Ankara’s plans to purchase the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system.

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