Air forces from nine countries, including the US, France, and Israel are currently taking part in the annual Iniochos exercise in Greece, simulating airstrikes, evading air defenses, and carrying out search and rescue ops.
In the exercise which began on March 28th and is scheduled to last through April 8th, air forces from Canada, Italy, Cyprus, Slovenia, and Austria are also participating.
Egypt, Albania, Austria, North Macedonia, the United Kingdom, India, Kuwait, Croatia, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia have sent observers to the drill.
Iniochos exercise “particularly important”
US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt expressed “his pride” in the fact that there participation from so many different elements of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the F-15s from Lakenheath Air Base, the F-18s flying off the Harry Truman, and an MQ-9 flying from Sigonella in Italy.
“This is mirrored in the growing complexity of the scenarios that the Iniochos exercise is demonstrating and the unique and broad number of participants that Greece is able to attract,” says Pyatt.
He goes on to say that: “This kind of bridge-building and the reinforcement of our alliance is particularly important at this moment as Russia continues its brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.”
Honored to participate in #INIOCHOS22 hosted by the Hellenic Air Force 🇬🇷. Strengthening #NATO alliances with readiness, capability and integration. Allies 🇫🇷🇺🇸🇮🇹 and 🇸🇮 #WeAreNato #GiveEmHell pic.twitter.com/u7WlGnsUBG
— USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) (@USSHARRYSTRUMAN) April 1, 2022
The exercise also features the French Rafale fighter aircraft and airborne early warning system, the Italian Tornado fighter aircraft, the Slovenian PC-9 training aircraft, and the Cypriot AW139 helicopter. Israel, for its part, sent the F-16, G550 surveillance plane, and Boeing 707 air refueler.
Analysts at the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies say that two elements stand out in this year’s drill at Iniochos 2022.
“First,” say analysts, “Saudi Arabia is sending observers for the first time publicly to the exercise. Second, Israel is using Inochios 2022 to rehearse some of the combat capabilities it would need to conduct strikes against Iran’s nuclear program.”
The military exercise comes amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to Channel 12 news, Israel and the other participating nations will be implementing initial lessons from the war in Europe during the exercise.
While none of the participating nations border Russia, the network said the drill would demonstrate their partnership and unity amid the possibility the war in Ukraine may spread to other countries. “It is a signal to Putin that these countries are working together to defend their sovereignty,” the report said.