Tag Archives: Turkish Air Force

9 Russian and 8 Turkish combat planes carry out the first joint air strike in Syria

The Turkish Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces have launched a joint raid against Islamic State targets in the Aleppo province.

Four Su-24Ms, four Su-25s and one Su-34 bomber of the Russian Air Force along with four F-16 and four F-4 jets belonging to the Turkish Air Force have carried out the first joint strike in Syria on Jan. 18: an interesting mix of aircraft for a quite rare COMAO (Combined Air Operation) made of platforms able to perform CAS (Close Air Support), BAI (Battlefield Air Interdiction), S/DEAD (Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses) and Strike as well as Air Superiority and Aerial Escort.

The raid aimed at destroying 36 ground targets was previously agreed with Syrian authorities, said Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, the chief of the Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate in a briefing in Moscow. Considered that Turkey is a NATO member hence the TuAF regularly trains with other western air forces and that the Russian Aerospace Force jets employ completely different procedures, standards, etc., it would be interesting to know something more about the preparation, coordination and execution of such joint raid.

Anyway, according to the first estimates provided by the Russian high-rank officer, the joint airstrikes near Al-Bab, in the Aleppo province, “have been highly effective.”

The raid came amid a nationwide ceasefire in Syria which came into effect on Dec. 30 and, according to the analysts, was in support of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, launched on Aug. 24, 2016 to clear the Syrian border town of Jarabulus and the surrounding area from Daesh terrorist group with the support of the FSA (Free Syria Army) and US-led coalition planes.

Al-Bab is one of Daesh’s last remaining strongholds near the Turkish border; the help of the Russians seems to be essential to prevent the Syrian Kurds from taking it.

The crisis between Moscow and Ankara that followed the downing of the Russian Air Force Su-24 by a TuAF F-16 on Nov. 24, 2015, seems decades away.

Image credit: Russia MoD

 

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Year 2016 in review through The Aviationist’s Top 5 articles

The five top stories of The Aviationist provide the readers the opportunity to virtually review the year that is coming to an end.

Ordered by pageviews, the following 5 posts got the most pageviews and comments among the articles published on the site, and can be used to review year 2016.

Needless to say, we covered many more topics during the past year, that saw us discussing F-35, Air War on ISIS, Russian campaign in Syria, Turkish Failed Coup, RC-135 spyplanes buzzed by Su-27s, Special Operations tracked online, A-10, North Korea, Eurofighter, and much more.

Please use the search feature or select the proper category/tag to read all what was written throughout the year.

1) “Here’s what I’ve learned so far dogfighting in the F-35”: a JSF pilot’s first-hand account

Mar. 1, 2016

A Norwegian pilot shared his experience flying mock aerial combat with the F-35.

As we reported last year, the debate between F-35 supporters and critics became more harsh in July 2015, when War Is Boring got their hands on a brief according to which the JSF was outclassed by a two-seat F-16D Block 40 (one of the aircraft the U.S. Air Force intends to replace with the Lightning II) in mock aerial combat.

Although we debunked some theories about the alleged capabilities of all the F-35 variants to match or considerably exceed the maneuvering performance of some of the most famous fourth-generation fighter, and explained that there is probably no way a JSF will ever match a Eurofighter Typhoon in aerial combat, we also highlighted that the simulated dogfight mentioned in the unclassified report obtained by WIB involved one of the very first test aircraft that lacked some cool and useful features.

Kampflybloggen (The Combat Aircraft Blog), the official blog of the Norwegian F-35 Program Office within the Norwegian Ministry of Defence, has just published an interesting article, that we repost here below under permission, written by Major Morten “Dolby” Hanche, one of the Royal Norwegian Air Force experienced pilots and the first to fly the F-35.

“Dolby”  has more than 2200 hours in the F-16, he is a U.S. Navy Test Pilot School graduate, and currently serves as an instructor and as the Assistant Weapons Officer with the 62nd Fighter Squadron at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.

He provides a first-hand account of what dogfighting in the F-35 looks like to a pilot who has a significant experience with the F-16. His conclusions are worth a read.

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2) Russian Su-33 crashed in the Mediterranean while attempting to land on Kuznetsov aircraft carrier

Dec. 5, 2016

Less than three weeks after losing a MiG-29, it looks like the Russian Navy has lost another aircraft during Admiral Kuznetsov operations: a Su-33 Flanker.

Military sources close to The Aviationist report that a Russian Navy Su-33 Flanker carrier-based multirole aircraft has crashed during flight operations from Admiral Kuznetsov on Saturday, Dec. 3.

According to the report, the combat plane crashed at its second attempt to land on the aircraft carrier in good weather conditions (visibility +10 kilometers, Sea State 4, wind at 12 knots): it seems that it missed the wires and failed to go around* falling short of the bow of the warship.

The pilot successfully ejected and was picked up by a Russian Navy search and rescue helicopter.

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3) F-15E Strike Eagles unable to shoot down the F-35s in 8 dogfights during simulated deployment

Jun. 27, 2016

“0 losses in 8 dogfights against F-15E Red Air”

The U.S. Air Force F-35A fleet continues to work to declare the Lightning II IOC (initial operational capability) scheduled in the August – December timeframe.

Among the activities carried out in the past weeks, a simulated deployment provided important feedbacks about the goal of demonstrating the F-35’s ability to “penetrate areas with developed air defenses, provide close air support to ground troops and be readily deployable to conflict theaters.”

Seven F-35s deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to  Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, to carry out a series of operational tests which involved local-based 4th Generation F-15E Strike Eagles belonging to the 366th Fighter Wing.

In a Q&A posted on the USAF website, Col. David Chace, the F-35 systems management office chief and lead for F-35 operational requirements at ACC, provided some insights about the activities carried out during the second simulated deployment to Mountain Home (the first was in February this year):

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

Jul. 18, 2016

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.

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5) Russia has just deployed its most advanced spyplane to Syria

Feb. 15, 2016

A Russian Air Force Tu-214R is about to land at Latakia, Syria.

The Tu-214R is a Russian ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft. In other words, a quite advanced spyplane.

As we have already explained here in the past, it is a special mission aircraft equipped with all-weather radar systems and electro optical sensors that produce photo-like imagery of a large parts of the ground: these images are then used to identify and map the position of the enemy forces, even if these are camouflaged or hidden.

The aircraft is known to carry sensor packages to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) and SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) missions: the antennae of the Tu-214R can intercept the signals emitted by the enemy systems (radars, aircraft, radios, combat vehicles, mobile phones etc) so as it can build the EOB (Electronic Order of Battle) of the enemy forces: where the enemy forces are operating, what kind of equipment they are using and, by eavesdropping into their radio/phone communications, what they are doing and what will be their next move.

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Note: the Tu-214R has carried out two deployments in Syria throughout the year, the first one lasting just a couple of weeks and ending on Feb. 29, the second one from Jul. 31 to Dec. 9, 2016.

 

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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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.

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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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