Twelve Eurofighter Typhoons belonging to the Royal Air Force and the Ejército del Aire (Spanish Air Force) took part in the international edition of Anatolian Eagle, from June 9 – 20 at Konya airbase, Turkey.
The Royal Air Force deployed six Typhoon FGR4s and a team consisting 13 pilots from 11 Squadron and 3(F) Squadron from RAF Coningsby, to Konya airbase, in Central Turkey, to take part in Anatolian Eagle 2014-2.
The 1,000 miles trip to Turkey gave the British Typhoons the opportunity to train jointly with the Turkish Air Force and international partners inside a large, segregated airspace measuring 200 x 150 Nautical Miles, most of which is available from ground to 50,000 feet – the ideal stage for simulated contingency operations.
RAF Typhoons flew swing-role missions, leveraging on the multi-role capabilities of the aircraft: carrying underwing RAIDS (Rangeless Airborne Instrumentation Debriefing System) pods to gather and transmit to ground station relevant flight data, the “Tiffies” flew high and fast to provide cover to the rest of the strike package during the ingress into the enemy airspace, dropped their simulated Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs) on targets designated with the centerline Litening III targeting pod, and escorted the package again during the egress and subsequent return to Konya.
Talking to the Royal Air Force website, newly appointed Typhoon Force Commander, Air Commodore Philip Beach, said: “The Typhoon Force is very much in demand, providing Quick Reaction Alert in the UK, the Falklands and in the Baltic region; it is on call 24/7 every day of the year. Typhoon is also a fundamental component of UK contingent operations and it is vital that we train with our NATO and international partners, in complex scenarios, to retain our competitive edge. This exercise provides the opportunity for us to further enhance interoperability with our allies and ensures that we maintain the highest levels of readiness for operations.”
The Spanish Air Force brought a tactical air expeditionary group to Turkey made up of six Eurofighter Typhoon C.16 jets from Ala 14 based at Albacete for what was their first participation in an overseas multinational exercise, and six EF-18s from Ala 12, based at Torrejón. Along with the Hornets, two Typhoons deployed to Konya non-stop, taking fuel mid-air from an Italian Air Force Boeing KC-767A tanker; the remaining four C.16s made a stopover at the Italian Eurofighter base at Gioia del Colle.
The Spanish Typhoons were tasked with pure Fighter Sweep missions: their role was to conduct offensive counter air missions, destroying all the enemy aircraft within the area of responsibility and to clear the way for incoming attack planes.
Depending on the length of the sortie, the aircraft flew with two or three drop tanks, an AIS (Airborne Instrumentation Sub-system) pod for the flight data downlink to the ground ACMI sensors, and a dummy IRIS-T air-to-air missile.
For the Ala 14 pilots, who were taking part in their first expeditionary experience with the Typhoon, their participation in Anatolian Eagle was an important opportunity to validate and enhance their reference tactics, share knowledge and improve cooperation with personnel from different nations, and fly the Eurofighter in a challenging scenario, with up to 60 aircraft flying at the same time, in a large, almost unrestricted airspace.
Attracting an increasing number of foreign air arms, Anatolian Eagle has become a high-tech exercise that gives participating units the opportunity to assess their capabilities and readiness for war, to improve multinational cooperation, and to test new weapons systems: some extremely important tasks, especially for nations such as Turkey which face increasing instability, pressure and threats along their borders.
Held three times a year (with two national classes reserved for the Turkish Air Force units and one open to allied air forces) at Konya airbase, in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey, Anatolian Eagle (AE) is a medium-scale air exercise inspired by the U.S. Red Flag and Maple Flag series, the aim of which is to train fighter pilots for the first few days of a modern conflict.
The first Anatolian Eagle exercise took place in 2001, in the wake of the participation to Deny Flight, Deliberate Force and Allied Force operations in the Balkans, during which the Turkish Air Force gained enough experience to be able to organize realistic war games, similar to those conducted in the airspace around Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to train its own squadrons as well as NATO and regional partners.
The scenario, which increases in complexity and lethality through the two-week training, consists of two teams, Blue and Red. Blue forces are mainly tasked with Combined Air Operations (COMAOs) on tactical and strategic targets in Red lands, protected by air and ground assets, including Turkish F-16 aggressor aircraft and Surface to Air Missile (SAM) threats of all types: SA-6 Gainful, SA-8 Gecko, SA-11A/B Gadfly, ZSU 23-4 Gundish, Skyguard/Sparrow, Hawk and MTS (Multi-Threat Simulator).
NATO E-3A AWACS from the local Forward Operating Base and, for the first time, Turkish Air Force Boeing 737 AEW&C Peace Eagle aircraft, provided Airborne Early Warning support for the Blue team, delivering tactical information about air and ground assets by datalink. All missions, including air-to-air engagements, are monitored in real-time and recorded by Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) sensors.
Anatolian Eagle 2014-2 featured combat aircraft from Jordan (F-16s), Qatar (Mirage 2000s), Spain (EF-18s and Eurofighter Typhoon C.16s) and the UK (Typhoon FGR4s) along with Turkish assets; overall, approximately 80 aircraft of different types took part in the drills.
Among the Turkish participants there were about 40 F-16 Block 30/40/50 jets; 11 F-4E 2020 Terminator del 111 e 171 Filo, which operated within the “Red” force and flew also with the AGM-142 Popeye; and, as said the new Boeing 737 AEW&C Peace Eagle of the 131 Filo. Qatar Emiri Air Force took part in the exercise with four Mirage 2000-5 from Doha’s 7th Air Superiority squadron whereas Royal Jordanian Air Force deployed three F-16s (including a two seater) from 1 Squadron from As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti airbase at Al Azraq.
The Spanish contingent was made of six EF-18 Hornet with the Ala 12 from Torrejón and six Eurofighter Typhoon C.16 with Ala 14 from Albacete whereas the Royal Air Force deployed six Typhoon FGR4s and a team consisting 13 pilots from 11 Squadron and 3(F) Squadron from RAF Coningsby.
Noteworthy, on Jun. 20, during the last day of the exercise, a brand new A400M of the Turkish Air Force (the first of 10) paid visit to Konya for the first operative mission since its delivery.
The following video brings you aboard a Spanish Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon of the Ala 14 (14th Wing), from Albacete (home of the Tactical Leadership Programme).
Cockpit cameras give a clear idea of what flying in formation above the clouds or at low altitude as well as performing aerobatics and dogfighting with another EF-2000 look like from a pilot’s point of view.
Note how close the aircraft are during an head-on engagement at 01.42.