Author: Ian French
Photographers: Ian French & Jon Astley
Anatolian Eagle is an international training exercise based at Konya Air Base in the centre of Turkey.  The first exercise was held in 2001 although its roots could be linked back to the 1980s when Turkey began a huge modernisation program.  Up to and including 2023 a total of 16 different countries have participated in the exercises with 3,135 aircraft and flying 25,692 sorties.  The potential training area is vast and covers 50,000 square miles with a ceiling of 50,000 feet.
Anatolian Eagle and Konya Air Base have a mission statement to be the most prestigious and preferred Tactical Training Centre in the world.  At the pilot level the exercise is designed to provide war time training and experience so as to improve survivability, especially in the early days of a war.  In addition, the coordination and interoperability between different air forces operating different types of aircraft is improved.
The above pictures shows the five 7 Air Superiority Squadron, Flying Wing 1 Typhoons from Tamim, Qatar.
The picture above shows the three block 52 F-16Cs from 5 (Maritime Reconnaissance) Squadron, 39 Tactical Wing from Shahbaz, Pakistan. In addition, two twin seat F-16Ds participated.
The picture above shows the three serviceable block 52 F-16s from Shaheen Squadron, Al Dhafra, United Arab Emirates. A fourth aircraft, F-16E 3039, spent most of its stay in the hangar.
Other foreign participants were three Sukhoi Su-25 from Kyurdamir, Azerbaijan.

Turkish Air Force visiting participants brought F-16s from 113, 151, 152, 161, 162, 182 and 191 Filos and F-4Es from 111 Filo.

Anatolian Eagle is run on a similar basis to the Red Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in the USA, with an aggressor force (the Blue Team) and a defending force (the Red Team) to simulate a war time environment.

The Blue Team (comprised of visiting units) is tasked with attacking tactical and strategic targets of the Red Team during Combined Air Operations.  The Red Team (comprised of the based 132 Filo F-16s) defends with opposing combat aircraft and Surface to Air Missiles (SAM).

 

During the exercise, the location, positioning and flight information of participating aircraft is transferred to a Command Control Centre.  Radar tracks and missile shots from the SAM systems, AWACS aircraft and other anti-aircraft systems are also transferred to the Command Control Centre.  The AWACS aircraft (based 131 Filo Boeing E-7Ts & NATO Boeing E-3As) provide command and control support to the Blue Team and land based radar supports the Red Team.  Air to air refueling is provided to both teams.  Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) is provided by the based 135 Filo Eurocopter AS532UL Cougars & Sikorsky/TAI T-70 Blackhawks.

 

Aviation Press would like to thank our hosts Lt. Col. Hakan Girgin and the Turkish Air Force for their generous assistance and hospitality.

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