INIOCHOS 21 underway, 31st FW participates alongside multinational allies

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  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Airmen and F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy, are participating in exercise INIOCHOS 21 at Andravida Air Base, Greece, from April 12-22, 2021.


The exercise is a Hellenic air force-sponsored operational and tactical level field training exercise, hosted by the Hellenic Air Tactics Center at Greece’s fighter weapons school, located at Andravida Air Base.


The exercise aims to enhance combat readiness and fighting capability, while providing participants the opportunity to develop capabilities planning and conduct complex air operations in a multinational, joint force environment.


“The purpose is to provide realistic training by simulating a dynamic battle environment with modern threats to produce an intense battle rhythm, realistic attrition rates, and invoke a ‘fog of war’ atmosphere,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joe A. Munoz, 510th Aircraft Maintenance Unit support section chief. “All of these factors test the physical and psychological endurance of pilots in order to prepare them [if] a large-scale conflict ever arises.”


Along with Greek and U.S. participants, Canada, Cyprus, Israel, Slovenia, Spain and the United Arab Emirates are also supporting the exercise. The interoperability during this exercise allows various allies the opportunity to not only work together, but also the ability to learn from each other.


It’s important for the U.S. Air Force to operate in a multi-national environment when training, since many operations across the world rely heavily on partner nations to achieve our strategic goals, explained Munoz. These exercises help lay the foundation for that understanding and will enable the U.S. Air Force to operate with a diverse team to meet our objectives.


“As guests at Aviano, we operate every day with the Italian air force so we’re familiar with interoperability,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Jeff Movsesian, 510th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations. “Likewise, INIOCHOS 21 involves eight countries, 25 squadrons, and six months of planning for all of the equipment and people required to sustain fighter operations.”


Additional U.S. forces participating include KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, RAF Mildenhall, England, Joint Terminal Attack Controllers assigned to the 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron, Vilseck, Germany, and MQ-9 Reaper aircraft assigned to the 731st Expeditionary Attack Squadron, flying out of Campia Turzii, Romania.


“This exercise's planning and coordination enabled a significant step towards expanding medium-altitude, long-endurance operations throughout the European airspace,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Timothy Morris, 731st EATKS director of operations. “ The 731st EATKS personnel will provide aircraft expertly maintained, launched, and recovered by a team of professional Airmen [and the] MQ-9 flight operations portion of the exercise will be conducted by Airmen from the 25th Attack Group, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.”


The 731st EATKS are enabling the first U.S. Air Force MQ-9 participation in the INIOCHOS exercise, and coordinated with Romania, Bulgaria, and Greece Defense Attaché Offices and civil air traffic controllers to secure diplomatic clearances for the first MQ-9 transition between these countries, continued Morris.


 Participation in multinational exercises like INIOCHOS 21 also allows Airmen to enhance their professional relationships and improves overall coordination with ally and partner militaries.


“Many of us rarely, if ever, get the opportunity to participate in an event of this magnitude,” said Munoz.  “To look across the ramp and see personnel from all over the world really makes you want to bring you’re A game each and every day.”


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