2021: Exercise Anatolian Eagle at Konya Air Base

From June 21 until July 2 2021 the International edition of exercise Anatolian Eagle took place.Low Pass Aviation travelled to Turkey to see where the exercise is all about.

History:

The Anatolian Eagle Training Center is Located at the 3rd Main Jet Base in Konya. The Training Center is a high level tactical training center, providing realistic Combat Training opportunities to the Turkish Forces and friendly partner nations. In the year 2000 Konya Airbase and the surrounding  area where chosen as the permanent site for the Anatolian Eagle Training Complex, because of the good infrastructure at this large airbase and the huge space nearby the base. The exercise area covers Lake Tuz and surrounding areas, with a size of 300 x 400 km enabling the participants to employ their skills and flight tactics without any limitations and also without being affected by civilian air traffic. The Anatolian Eagle Training Center is the only tactical training center in the European area. The first edition of  exercise Anatolian Eagle took place in June 2001, since it’s establishment in the year 2001, 43 Anatolian Eagle Training exercises have been held, from which 24 international and 19 national editions. With more than 33.000 personnel participated and around 24.600 sorties where flown  and up to this year 15 country’s participated in  Anatolian Eagle.

Execution:

The Anatolian Eagle exercise is in some ways similar to the Red Flag exercises which are held in The United States at Nellis Airbase in the state of Nevada. The AE trainings are realized in close to real war environment, with scenario’s from easy to hard situations, with the advantage of high technology and by monitoring the quality of the AE trainings on  computer environment. The aim is to test the knowledge and abilities of all the participants and to raise the level of the trainings by detecting the weak points and the deficiencies of all the participants.

The AE Training exercise will enhance the training level of the participants by creating a realistic combat theatre within a specific scenario, Blue Forces conduct combined air operations (COMAO)  attacks against targets on the so called Red land defended by  various fake surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites and with the necessary Air Combat Maneuvering  Instrumentation equipment (ACMI), in addition to the surface-to-air assets Red force aggressor aircraft manned by the most experienced pilots will give the Blue Force participants a hard time by using aggressor tactics in a simulated war environment and compel them to stay away from the target area in order to let them get the best training opportunities in a realistic scenario. In the Anatolian Eagle Training Center all airborne aircraft, threat systems, and others can be visualized on real time basis and post mission assessments can be made in a high realistic way.

Objectives:

  • To exercise and develop joined and combined operational procedures
  • To increase the operational training level of the pilots, groundcrew and air defense personnel in a most realistic operational environment
  • To decrease the attritions to a maximum level in real operation environment
  • Give a chance to fighter pilots to execute their planned tactics and flight skills to employ in large force compositions
  • Provide a forum to exchange ideas and lessons learned
  • Train the participants as they fight and teach them how to survive
  • To train for an even more effective cooperation between friendly partner country’s

Participants Anatolian Eagle 2021:

This year’s international edition of Anatolian Eagle saw the participation of Qatar, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and Nato. While the Pakistan Air Force and the Qatar Emiri Air Force already participated in previous editions of Anatolian Eagle with their own fighter jets, it was however the first time for the Azerbaijan Air Force to participate in the exercise with their own fighter aircraft, having participated in the exercise in 2019 as an observer nation only. For this year’s international edition of Anatolian Eagle the Azerbaijan Air Force  brought two Mig-29 Fulcrum’s and two Su-25 Frogfoots  to Konya airbase.

The Anatolian Eagle exercise was observed by many country’s, all of these country’s brought a military delegation to Konya airbase, to see how the AE exercise is performed. Country’s from all over the world where present during the exercise, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso,Croatia,Georgia,Hungary,Iraq,Japan,Jordan,Kosovo,Malaysia,Nigeria,North Macedonia, Romania, South Korea, South Africa, Sweden, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine to name them all.

NATO Response Force:

During the international edition of the Anatolian Eagle training exercise of 2021,the certification of the Turkish Air Force elements committed to the Nato Response Force (NRF) was also carried out for the first time. The combat readiness and interoperability of 6 F-16’s and 1 KC-135R refueling aircraft and 6 Stinger Air Defence teams committed by the Turkish Air Force, to the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) as part of the Nato Response Force (NRF) was also evaluated and successfully carried out.

This year’s scenario for the International edition of the exercise was a country divided in a democratic and strong military Blue land in the South East and a poor, unsafe and  corrupt Red land in the North West, that is controlled by a corrupt and illegal government after a coup took place.The Red land Force existed out of various F-16’s from the Konya based 132 Filo which were acting as aggressor aircraft, some of the 132 Filo F-16’s where covered with red stickers specially for their aggressor role in the AE exercise. The Blue land participants consisted of the international participants and the following  Turkish Air Force squadrons.

Overview participating Aircraft

  • Qatar Emiri Air Force: 1 Rafale DQ, 3 Rafale EQ Al Adiyat squadron from Tamim airbase
  • Pakistan Air Force: 5 JF-17A Thunder, 16 (mr) squadron from Minhas-Kamra airbase
  • Azerbaijan Airforce:
    2 Mig-29 Miq eskadrilya from Nasosnaya airbase
    2 Su-25  Su-25 eskadrilya  from Kurdamir airbase
  • NAEWCF with 1 E-3A from Geilenkirchen airbase
  • 113 Filo with 6 F-16’s from Eskisehir airbase
  • 151 Filo with 6 F-16’s from Merzifon airbase
  • 181 Filo with 8/9 F-16’s from Diyarbakir airbase
  • 152 Filo with 6 F-16’s from Incirlik airbase
  • 191 Filo with 3 F-16’s from Balikesir airbase
  • 131 Filo with 1 E-7T from Konya airbase
  • 101 Filo with 2 KC-135R from Incirlik airbase
  • 302 Filo with 2 Anka-S UAV from Incirlik airbase
  • 132 Filo with 8/10 F-16’s from Konya airbase (Red force aggressor role)

Some of the Turkish Air Force F-16’s were on loan from other Turkish Air Force F-16 units or wore the unit markings from their previous unit.

The 2 KC-135R’s from 101 Filo and the 2 Anka-S UAVs from the 302 Filo were operating from their home base in Incirlik during the exercise. The Turkish Naval Forces were also participating in the international edition of Anatolian Eagle 2021 and took part in the exercise with two frigates and two assault fast attack ships.

Future:

The organization of the exercise can look back at another successful edition of Anatolian Eagle, with an impressive 330 missions flown in total during the international edition of Anatolian Eagle 2021.

The Anatolian Eagle training has grown steadily in recent years, the aim of the Turkish Air Force is to expand the AE training exercise even further, for example various new modern squadron buildings, offices and  hangars will be build, and the infrastructure will be further upgraded when necessary with even more state of the art equipment in the near future. There are also plans to further expand the exercise with scenarios taking place on the modern battlefield at this time and in the near future. It can therefore be concluded that the Anatolian Eagle training exercise will further develop into one of the more important and larger exercises in the European area and undoubtedly more country’s will be interested to participate in the Anatolian Eagle exercises in the future.

The team of Lowpass Aviation would like to thank the Turkish Air Force for their hospitality and their time and help. Special thanks goes to Vincent Martens and CM.sgt Cimen of the Turkish Air Force.

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