“Today we are passing the message that cooperation, synergy and good relations are the ones that ensure peace and security in the region. We are moving in this direction, all of us who share the same view and face the same threats,” said Greek Defense Minister Evangelos Apostolakis, from Andravida air base, where the final phase of the mid-scale aerial training” INIOHOS 2019 ” is taking place, with the participation of the USA, Italy, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates.
Mr. Apostolakis described the exercise as highly successful, stressing that “the exercise is quite advanced with rather difficult scenarios that took place throughout the FIR of Greece. All participants have something to gain from it. With this exercise, cooperation between allies and the NATO states is progressing a further step. ” He also underlined that in this exercise Greece sends the message that “we operate in the whole of our airspace. It is Greek and that is why we exercise our right without bothering anyone. ”
Commenting on the news that the US is considering selling F-35s to five new countries, including Greece, Mr. Apostolakis said: “We are beyond the F-16 upgrade and we are in the process of choosing the new airplane that Greece will have to purchase to transition to a new generation of aircraft slowly. The statement made at the US Congress is helping this outlook. We will examine it, all the components, and we will see what happens.”
For his part, US Ambassador to Greece, Geoffrey Pyatt, said: “I am very happy to return to Andravida for the third consecutive year for the exercise “INIOHOS “. I want to congratulate the Greek Armed Forces and the leadership of the Ministry of Defense for the impressive evolution of “INIOHOS” over the years “.
The US official, referring to the prospect of Greece buying the F-35, initially noted that the US Air Force regards Greece as a very important ally, adding that the F-16 upgrade, which has begun, helps Greece to move from one a fourth-generation aircraft towards a fifth-generation aircraft and is a first step for Greece to acquire the F-35 in the future.
In the exercise, which began on Monday (1/4) and is completed today, 77 aircraft, among them and six Italian F-35s, F-16, F-4s Tornado, Mirage 2000s as well as air radars and air-to-air tankers.
Present at the Andravida Air Force Base were United States, Israel, United Arab Emirates Ambassadors, Representative from the Italian Embassy and Observers from the United States of America, the US Army, the United States Embassy, and several other countries.