With tensions high in Europe and the Middle East, the Israeli Air Force will be participating in Greece's Iniohos 2022, a multinational aerial exercise along with pilots from seven other countries simulating various challenging combat scenarios.
According to the Hellenic Air Force, the drill is designed to provide advanced and realistic training scenarios for participants in order to enhance combat readiness and fighting capabilities.
It will simulate a variety of scenarios – including airstrikes, evading air defenses, combat search and rescue operations, and protecting aircraft or attacking airborne targets.
Israeli F-16s, G-550 Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and Air-to-Air Refueling B-707 aircraft will be flying alongside pilots from several other countries – including the United States (F-15 fighter jets and MQ-9 Reaper drones), Canada, France (Charles De Gaulle aircraft carrier, Rafael fighter jets and AEW E2C Hawkeye aircraft) Italy (Tornado fighter jets), Cyprus (AW139 helicopter), and Slovenia (PC-9 training aircraft).
Other countries – including Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Albania, Austria, North Macedonia, the UK, India, Canada and Croatia – will be sending observers.
The drill will take place at Andravida Air Base in southern Greece from Monday, March 28, until April 7 over the entire Athens Flight Information Region (FIR).
Israel maintains broad cooperation with the Greek Air Force and has participated in numerous military exercises of air, sea and ground forces with the country.
Senior IDF officers have told The Jerusalem Post that the military views its Greek counterparts as a “major and natural strategic partner.”
While Israel has participated in the drill for several years, it did not appear on the exercise’s website as a participant in 2018, 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.
Before the signing of the Abraham Accords, IAF pilots flew alongside pilots from the United Arab Emirates in Iniochos 2019.
This year’s exercise comes shortly after American, Israeli, French, Cypriot and Greek naval forces completed the Noble Dina naval drill in the Mediterranean Sea southwest of Cyprus last week.
The Israel Navy’s INS Hanit (a Sa’ar 5-class corvette), INS Kidon (a Sa’ar 4.5-class vessel), INS Romah ships and the INS Tanin submarine took part in the drill.
The participating forces conducted several exercises, including naval defense, dealing with a submarine threat, search and rescue, medical responses at sea, dealing with naval and aerial threats and combined naval and air force training against submarines.
Although Israel’s Navy is relatively small compared to other IDF corps, it has a significant amount of territory to protect.
The navy is also tasked with securing the natural gas drilling rigs that are in Israel’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), clear targets for enemies on the Jewish state's northern border. The IDF believes that Hezbollah has long-range missiles that can hit the rigs, which supply a large amount of the electricity consumed in Israel.
Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this report.