The Italian Tornado IDS and ECR jets were among the aircraft taking part in “Iniochos 2023” exercise.
We will cover this year’s iteration of the annual Hellenic Air Force “Iniochos” medium-scale exercise hosted by the Hellenic Air Force at the facilities of the ATC (Air Tactics Center) at Andravida Air Base, Greece, in an upcoming report. Anyway, among the aircraft taking part in the drills, there were also the Italian Air Force Tornado IDS and ECR jets of the 6° Stormo, from Ghedi Air Base.
During their stay in Greece, the Italian Tornados had a chance to exploit one of the canyons located in the northwest of the Peloponnese peninsula, regularly used for low level flying by the Hellenic Air Force aircraft and, during the Iniochos exercises, by allied aircraft deployed to Andravida.
This year, many aviation enthusiasts, photographers and spotters have climbed the hills in the so-called “Greek Mach Loop” (for its resemblance to the famous UK Low Flying Areas) to take photos and videos of the low flying aircraft, with some stunning results.
In this post you can find three pretty cool clips that show the Tornados thundering fast at low level, with wings swept at 45 and 67 degrees, in the narrow Greek valleys, along with Saudi F-15SAs, also taking part in “Iniochos 23”.
In the past, until end of the 1990s, a significant part of the sorties saw the Tornado IDS and ECRs operate at ultra-low level. However, experience in real combat operations (like Allied Force over the Balkans and Unified Protector over Libya) has made low level flying less relevant. “Nowadays we mostly operate at medium altitude,” told us last year the commander of the 155° Gruppo (Squadron), that flies the Tornado ECR. “Still, depending on the scenario, we may need to return to operate at low level in the future and this is the reason why we continue to invest part of our flight hours in the low level training: our aircrews are trained to carry out missions as low as 100 feet”. Moreover, footage coming from Ukraine has shown flying at low level is still a must in certain combat scenarios, where fighter pilots need to infiltrate heavily defended targets and to evade from areas protected by sophisticated air defense systems. To be able to fly at less than 2,000 feet can be useful during training too, when weather conditions are such to require a low level leg to keep visual contact with the ground and VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions).
In Italy, low level flying is allowed inside a few tactical areas where tactical jets can fly as low as 500 feet AGL (Above Ground Level), but I’m not sure you can see there something similar to the scenes shown in the videos above…