Tag Archives: Anatolian Eagle

Turkish “Anatolian Eagle 2016” exercise retrospective

Less than two months before the failed coup, the Turkish Air Force hosted its traditional medium-scale high-tech exercise at Konya airbase, in Anatolia.

Held at Konya, in central Anatolia, south of Ankara, Turkey, Exercise Anatolian Eagle, is a very well-known series of exercises hosted by the Turkish Air Force three times a year (with one edition open to allied air forces) and attended each year by several foreign air arms. It is 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 exercise provides the participating Turkish and foreign nations air forces an interesting opportunity to perform joint combat training in real-world scenarios that include Combined Air Operations (COMAOs) on tactical and strategic targets defended by Aggressors aircraft and Surface to Air Missile (SAM) threats of all types.

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The latest AE took place between May 24 and Jun. 9 and saw the involvement of about 55 Turkish combat planes, including F-16C/Ds from the 132, 141, 151, 152, 161, 162, 182 and 191 Filo (Squadron) and 8 F-4E-2020 Phantoms belonging to the 111 Filo; as well as 6 Tornado (IDS and ECR) of the Italian Air Force, six F-16AM/BM of the 11 Squadron “Arrows” of the Pakistani Air Force, a unit with a multi-role task that serves also as the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) of the Viper; and 8 Tornado IDSs from the RSAF (Royal Saudi Air Force) 11 Wing.

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The focus of the latest edition of AE was dynamic and time-sensitive targeting, as well as close-air support missions, types of missions that are part of the ATOs (Air Tasking Orders) of most of the real combat operations conducted by all the participating air forces: the TuAF against the Kurdish PKK separatists, the Saudi against Houthi rebels in Yemen and the Pakistani against militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, whereas the Italians support Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS (previously with the Tornado IDSs and currently with AMX ACOLs) although the ItAF jets perform reconnaissance missions only. Interestingly, among the aircraft that the Italians flew to Konya there were also three Tornado ECR, that are highly-specialised aircraft capable to perform SEAD/DEAD (Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses) tasks.

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As happened in the previous years, the AE attracted thousands of aircraft spotters and media representatives, eager to take some cool shots of the aircraft (including some rather “exotic” ones) taking part in the exercise. Among them, there was Remo Guidi, who took the photographs you can find in this post.

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It’s not clear what role Konya airbase and some of its officers played in the failed coup on Jul. 15-16. There are still many conflicting reports about the air operations over Turkey in the night of the attempted military takeover. For sure, some TuAF officers, including the base operations commander, were arrested on Jul. 17 under suspiction of being involved in the coup attempt.

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Konya is an important base, the headquarters of the Anatolian Eagle Training Center Command, that plans, organizes and conducts the AE drills and has the important role of testing and validating TuAF’s aircraft and units’ ability and preparedness for combat, establishing a background knowledge to achieve the military aims at war in the shortest time and with minimum effort. In simple words, Konya is where tactics are developed and put to test.  Moreover, it hosts the 131 Filo, the squadron that operates the E-7T (B737AEW&C); 132 Filo that flies the F-16C/D Block 50; 135 Filo, equipped with AS532AL, CN235M-100 and UH-1H helicopters and it is the homebase of the Turkish Stars, the TuAF display team.

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Image credit: Remo Guidi

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These are the Turkish Air Force jets pounding PKK and ISIS in Turkey, Syria and Iraq

Turkish Air Force has been training for real operations like those in Iraq and Syria for 15 years.

On Jul. 24, Turkey launched “Operation Martyr Yalcin” against ISIS positions in Syria and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in Northern Iraq.

The air strikes actually began in the early morning on Jul. 24, a day after Islamic State militants attacked a Turkish border patrol in the town of Elbeyli in Kilis Province, killing one soldier and injuring two others. The operation was named after the Turkish soldier killed in the initial attack, Yalçın Nane.

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At around 3:40 LT three F-16s from 181 Filo took off from Diyarbakir airbase and bombed 3 ISIS positions  in northern Syria dropping GBU-12 Paveway II laser guided bombs. The Turkish jets did not violate the Syrian airspace but dropped their bombs from inside the Turkish airspace.

Post strike analysis assessed 35 ISIS militants were killed by the first wave of raids that was followed later on the same day (starting around 22:30 LT) by a larger air strike against PKK positions in northern Iraq. The mission is said to have involved 20 F-16s from 181 Filo that according to witnesses and initial reports violated the Syrian and Iraqi air space.

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The air strikes in Iraq allegedly killed the PKK commander Murat Karayılan among the others.

On Jul. 25, a third wave of air strikes was launched against PKK: it was divided into three sub-waves, the first and second of those involved 70 F-16s that conducted their mission, returned to Dyarbakir were re-armed and re-launched, and by a third wave reportedly conducted by 25 F-4E-2020 Phantoms from Eskisehir, temporarily deployed to Erhac.

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In the subsequent days, F-16s (from 181 Filo with support from 161 Filo) from Dyarbakir, mainly focused on PKK positions in both in northern Iraq and inside Turkey, as well as on ISIS targets in northern Syria.

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The Turkish Air Force has been preparing to conduct a similar air campaign for about 15 years through Anatolian Eagle (AE) series of exercises.

Held three times a year at Konya airbase, in the Central Anatolia region, 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 such drills took place in 2001, then, throughout the years, AE has become more complex and effective in preparing Turkish (and allied) aircrews to war.

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All the images in this post were taken by The Aviationist’s contributor Tony Lovelock, during the most recent class of AE, held at Konya in June.

H/T to Arda Mevlutoglu and ACIG forum for providing useful information for this article.

 

Close call: two Turkish Air Force NF-5 jets almost collide during aerobatic display

Two NF-5s belonging to the Turkish aerobatics team, Turkish Stars, almost collided over Konya, during a display practice.

Filmed in 2009, the following video shows two NF-5 of the Turkish Air Force aerobatic team “Turkish Stars” coming quite close to collide mid-air during a display practice over Konya airbase, the homebase of the famous Anatolian Eagle exercise.

According to the user who uploaded the video to Liveleak, Major Evren Ayna, the pilot who was flying inverted, describes the moment in these words:

“Every job has its own risks. Of course, you can’t always be prepared for everything. But having good reflexes is good and expecting the unexpected saves lives. This video is a proof that this kind of things is not fun and games. It shows our effort and self-sacrifice. This video was taken in 2009, during a training session in Konya. My plane suffers a mechanical failure and we cheat death. I’m the one in inverted flight. :)”

 

Focus on Eurofighter Typhoons’ role in Exercise Anatolian Eagle in Turkey

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 Typhoon FGR4 Konya

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.

Typhoon FGR4 one wheel touchdown

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.”

Typhoons lined up

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.

C.16 departure with IRIS-T

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.

C.16 take off

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.

C.16 landing

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.

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Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2014-2: Turkey, Jordan, Qatar, Spain and the UK train for real combat ops

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.

F-16 lined up

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.

QEAF landing

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.

Phantom take off

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.

RJAF F-16

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.

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Typhoon take off

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.

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