All Israeli F-16I Squadrons landed in their airbases earlier this week, following two weeks of intensive training with the HAF (Hellenic Air Force)
In the midst of what appears to be a record year for the Israeli-Greece aerial cooperation, the IAF F-16I squadrons deployed in Andravida Base in Northwest Peloponnese Peninsula.
The two weeks of intensive training, which involved many arenas and scenarios, were a part of a large-scaled exercise held by the Hellenic Air Force once a year.
“We deal with flying in unknown areas and in the face of new threats and it brings a healthy tension to the squadron”, said Captain Or from the “One” squadron.
First-of-its-kind Cooperation in HAF’s large scale Exercise
The deployment was a part of HAF’s mega training exercise that has been taking place for the past 20 years and is called “INIOHOS”, a Greek word that can be translated as a “Charioteer driving a carriage”.
It incorporates the entire Hellenic Air Force, including the Greek combat F-16, “Mirage” and “Phantom F-4” jets. It is the first time the Hellenic Air Force has chosen to integrate a foreign Air Force into the training exercise.
“Our cooperation with Greece increases every year”, explained Major Gil, Head of Overseas Exercises in the Air Division. “It can be attributed to strategic processes in the region as well as to the successful work we do together”.
One of the goals of the cooperation between the countries is mutual learning. “It is very comfortable to work with the Greeks also thanks to the cultural similarities we share. In addition, many of their systems similar to ours”, added Major Gil. “They put more emphasis on the independence of the mission leader, while we bring our high operational versatility and resolve”.
For two weeks, IAF’s air crews neglected their mother tongue and operated as English speakers in all senses. Apart from the linguistic gaps, the Israelis experienced flying with foreign forces that carry out missions differently.
“At the end of the day we fly on the same platforms and all of us speak English”, said Captain Or. “The piloting differences are bridged with comprehensive preparations to the smallest detail, from setting exact times for strikes to synchronizing communication systems”.
Therefore, prior to the deployment, the air crews who were destined to participate in the training exercise went through a preparation workshop which included a week of flights and simulator trainings with dealing with optional malfunctions and weather typical to the relevant areas.
“The Cooperation with the Greek military forces is of immense importance for the State of Israel”, said Captain Or. “It also provides the IAF with high-quality practice involving new flying methods and forces us to generate mental flexibility and face the unknown”.