Tag Archives: F-16

Exclusive: all the details about the air ops and aerial battle over Turkey during the military coup to depose Erdogan

F-16s, KC-135Rs, A400Ms: known and unknown details about the night of the Turkey military coup.

Here below is the account of what happened on Jul. 15, when a military takeover was attempted in Turkey. It is based on the information gathered by Turkish defense journalist Arda Mevlutoglu, by analysis of the Mode-S logs and reports that have been published by several media outlets in the aftermath of the coup.

Shortly after 22.00 local time on July 15th, air traffic control (ATC) operator in Akinci 4th Main Jet Base (MJB), an airbase located to the northwest of Ankara, contacted his counterpart at Esenboga Airport ATC. Akinci airbase is the homebase of 141, 142 and 143 Filo (Squadrons) of the Turkish Air Force (TuAF) equipped with F-16Cs.

4MJB operator informed that two local-based F-16s were going to take off, fly at 21-22,000 feet and coordination with Esenboga ATC could not be possible.

Shortly after, two F-16s calsign “Aslan 1” (“Lion 1”) and “Aslan 2” (“Lion 2”) from 141 Squadron took off from 4MJB.

After take off, Aslan 1 contacted Esenboga and requested permission to climb to the designated altitude, which was granted. When asked about the intention, the pilot replied “special mission, going to fly over Ankara city.”

Shortly after this communication, telephone calls from the city began reaching Esenboga, telling jets flying at very high-speed at low altitude. The time is around 22.20 – 22.25, as videos of F-16s flying over Ankara at rooftop level were filmed.

Puzzled by the reports, Esenboga ATC called 4MJB ATC for an explanation. The reply was: “They took off with IFF transponders switched off.” 4MJB also informed Esenboga that a new pair of F-16s with callsign “Sahin” (“Hawk”) also took off at very low altitude.

The Sahin pair threatened civilian air traffic, which was diverted through alternative approach routes.

Shortly after that, Esenboga ATC detected a KC-135R callsign “Asena 02” from Incirlik 10th Main Tanker Base (MTB). The presence of this KC-135R, from 101 Filo (whose radio callsign is “Asena”), is confirmed by Mode-S logs collected by a feeder in Ankara.

At this point Esenboga ATC had no contact with the mentioned F-16s and KC-135R. The Turkish Vipers began air-to-air refuelling from “Asena 02” periodically. Noteworthy, as many as 4 KC-135R reportedly flew from Incirlik (Asena 01 to 04 – the first appearing on the Mode-S logs).

It was reported that coup supporting aircraft and helicopters opened fire at:

  • Police Special Operations Forces headquarters at Golbasi (bombed by F-16. 47 policemen killed)
  • Police Aviation Division headquarters at Golbasi
  • Turkish Grand National Assembly building (TBMM)
  • Turkish Police general headquarters
  • MIT (national intelligence organization) headquarters at Yenimahalle
  • TurkSAT (state satellite operator) headquarters at Golbasi
  • Presidental Palace at Bestepe

For a few hours, coup F-16s flew over Ankara at very high speeds, often breaking the sound barrier at very low altitudes, releasing flares.

It was reported also that F-16s from both sides entered dogfight over Ankara and Istanbul, however no aircraft has been shot down according to the reports obtained thus far. Interestingly, one of the coup plotters aboard a “rebel” F-16 was the pilot who shot down the Russian Su-24 Fencer that had violated the Turkish airspace back in November 2015.

F-16s from Dalaman, Erzurum and Balikesir took off to intercept coup F-16s that according to the reports were as many as 6.

F-16 coup

Merzifon 5MJB, which is one of the closest MJB’s to Ankara was at renovation and closed. All its fighters were temporarily based in Erzurum.

Meanwhile, “Asena 02” left Ankara and climbed to max operational altitude, circling over Kastamonu. Asena 03 took over its role of supporting coup F-16s. A couple of arriving F-16s were directed to Asena 02 to shoot it down, but did not do so probably due to the fact that it was flying over residential areas.

At least one AH-1 Cobra, probably an AH-1W type opened fire with its 20mm gun to protesting crowd and TBMM. This helicopter or another one repotedly opened fire at TurkSAT (State satellite operator) headquarters at Golbasi. This helicopter was reportedly shot down by a loyalist F-16.

A S-70A opened fire at the front gates of MIT campus. Reportedly tried to insert commandos to take over the facility and kidnap Hakan Fidan, head of the service. This helicopter is reportedly shot down (not confirmed).

One or two Air Force AS532 CSAR helicopters raided a wedding ceremony of a high rank general in Istanbul which was attended by many generals. CSAR commandos kidnapped them.

8 cargo aircraft (C-160 and A400M included – one using callsign “Esem 26” was in the air when the takeover unfolded) took off from Kayseri and landed at Malatya 7MJB. They were full of weapons to be used by coup.

Coup F-16s searched for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plane, TC-ATA around Istanbul to shoot it down. According to some media reports rebel TuAF F-16s had the plane in their sights: it’s unclear whether they had a real lock-on, rather that they probably were searching the sky for the Gulfstream IV.

Furthermore, TC-ATA used a callsign THY 8456 to disguise as a Turkish Airlines airplane (Turkish’s callsign is THY) and the risk of shooting down another plane, and losing credibility too, could be a factor affecting the coup’s F-16s to shot down his plane and kill Erdogan.

TC-ATA was flying from Dalaman to Istanbul Ataturk, which was raided by coup supporters. ATC was taken over, all lights off. Shortly before TC-ATA’s landing, it was taken from rebels.

Details of Erdogan’s flight can be found here.

Early morning of 16 July, fighters (probably F-4E 2020) from Eskisehir 2MJB bombed the main runway of 4MJB whilst at least one Turkish Air Force F-16C Block 50 was circling to the west of Ankara most probably in Combat Air Patrol. In the afternoon on the same day an E-7 AEW of 131 Filo and an F-16 of 142 Filo were flying in Ankara area, likely ready to intercept any helicopter or small plane trying to flee towards Greece.

Update: please note that unlike what has been mistakenly reported by some media outlets, no U.S. KC-135 took part in the operation according to the information we have collected. All the tankers whose presence has been confirmed are Turkish Air Force tankers from 101 Filo, as explained in the article.

H/T to Arda Mevlutoglu for widely contributing to this post. Additional info from @CivMilAir and @Avischarf

TuAF F-16-take-off

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Turkish F-16 patrolling the skies near Ankara could be tracked online

Quite surprisingly a Turkish Air Force F-16C Block 50 could be tracked on Flightradar24.

In the morning on Jul. 16, when it was already enough clear that the military coup in Turkey had failed, at least one Turkish Air Force F-16 was circling to the west of Ankara.

We don’t know whether the TuAF F-16C Block 50 was flown by a loyalist or a “rebel” pilot supporting the takeover because, since the beginning of the revolt, reports have been contradictory as to whether the Air Force supported the coup or remained loyal to Erdogan, that had landed at Istanbul Ataturk international airport overnight.

For sure, a certain number of aircraft supported the coup: Turkish Air Force F-16s performed ultra low-level passes, at rooftop altitude, with full afterburners over Turkey’s capital Ankara during the opening hours of the takeover. These were reportedly refuelled mid-air by TuAF KC-135s launched from Incirlik airbase.

However, some F-16s remained loyal to the Government as seems to be confirmed by the fact that a Turkish Black Hawk helicopter carrying some Turkish high-ranking officers supporting the defiant military was shot down by a Viper.

Anyway, what’s really interesting is that the presence of the Turkish F-16 and its route, altitude and speed (with GS varying from 180 to 570 kts) could be monitored online thanks to Flightradar24.com via MLAT.

The aircraft, serial number 94-0086, could be first spotted around 07.45 UTC and tracked until around 09.00 UTC when it egressed the area towards the southeast (in the direction of Incirlik).

Here below is a video recording of the mission flown by the Turkish F-16.

Image and video via Flightradar24

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Crazy videos show Turkish Air Force F-16s flying at very low level among the buildings during military coup

Turkish Air Force F-16s performing show of force low passages over Ankara. With afterburners, nav lights, armament and releasing flares.

Both bridges over the Bosphorus have been closed, tanks are in the road and surrounding key places, the state TV and Istanbul airport have been occupied and all flights have been cancelled: a coup is in progress in Turkey.

The military takeover is supported by the Turkish Air Force F-16s that are performing ultra low-level passes, at rooftop altitude, with full afterburners over Turkey’s capital Ankara.

Take a look at the following footage.

At least one of the aircraft performing the show of force appears to be armed with AIM-120 and AIM-9 air-to-air missiles and drop tanks.

Here is another interesting clip:

It looks like F-16s are even launching flares to intimidate pro-Erdogan protestors.

Top image via @DefenseAero. H/T Giuliano Ranieri for sending the video links

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Polish Air Force F-16 jets deploy to Kuwait to fight Daesh

The Polish Vipers join the coalition fighting ISIS

Polish Air Force F-16 fighters from the Łask Airbase, located close to the city of Łódź in the central part of Poland, have departed their homeland for the Middle East on Jul. 5.

Operating from the territory of Kuwait, the Polish Vipers are going to become a part of the global coalition fighting against ISIS, providing reconnaissance capabilities in support of Operation Inherent Resolve

According to the Polska Zbrojna, officers of the detachment are also going to provide their support to the Qatar multinational air operations centre, from where the reconnaissance sorties carried out by the Polish F-16s using the Goodrich DB110 recce pod will be coordinated.

Four additional aircraft have departed from the 23rd Air Base in Minsk Mazowiecki, not from Łask, which is their usual gathering point (Minsk Mazowiecki airbase is being currently used by the Polish Air Force MiG-29 jets).

Aerial refueling along the route is going to be provided by the Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 tankers.

A report published by Polskie Radio quotes Lt. Col. Tomasz Jatczak, Lt. commander of the Polish detachment in Kuwait, who in an interview for the IAR outlet stressed that the sortie would constitute a great challenge for the pilots, since it is the first operational combat deployment of the Polish F-16 jets.

The observational character of the mission does not mean that the Polish fighters would be exempted from flying over the enemy territory, and this, as Jatczak claims, may be seen as a demanding task.

The Kuwaiti deployment, according to the reports emerging in the media, involves 130 persons.

Simultaneously Polish special forces are also going to be operating in the region, deploying 60 specialists who would provide training and consultancy support for the Iraqi Army, as Polskie Radio claims.

According to Polska Zbrojna, the Kuwaiti deployment is a direct result of a order issued by President Andrzej Duda. Two detachments have been created, which are to remain on alert within the period between Jun. 20. and Dec. 31. this year.

Image Credit: Michał Gajzler

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Awesome Air-to-Air Shots of Air Refueling Operations During Anakonda-16 Exercise in Poland

U.S. tankers refuel Polish F-16s.

Anakonda-16 and Baltops-16 exercises are currently underway in Poland, involving numerous air assets.

Several combat planes operating within a realistic modern air combat scenario over the Polish territory must be supported by AAR (Air-to-Air Refueling) operations.

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During the last week, Filip Modrzejewski visited the Powidz Air Base, near Gniezno, where 4 U.S. Air Force KC-135 tankers from the 434th Air Refueling Wing and 100th Air Refueling Wing are stationed.

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Cooperation between Foto Poork and USAF made it possible for Filip to obtain the unique shots, including photographs that depict the thirsty Polish Air Force F-16 jets getting refueled during the training operations.

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The task is not easy, since the photographer needs to take a laying position, in limited space and very limited visibility.

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The Polish F-16 jets are being refueled from both the 100th ARW and the 434th ARW tankers, while the presented shots have been taken from the tanker belonging to 100th ARW, operating from RAF Mildenhall.

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Besides the AAR operation, Anakonda-16 exercise also featured massive airdrop, near the Torun military training range. The airborne units were tasked with taking over a bridge. The operation is still in progress and we may see more unique material coming up in the next few days.

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Image Credit: Filip Modrzejewski/Foto Poork

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