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 2015 a total of 14 different countries have participated in the exercises with 2,674 aircraft and flying 22,869 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 picture shows the visitors ramp in 2016 – Saudi and Italian Tornados, Pakistan F-16s and visiting Turkish F-16s
On a similar basis to the Red Flag exercises at Nellis Air Force Base in the USA, the exercise is run 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 Lockheed Martin 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 (either based 131 Filo Boeing E-7Ts or NATO Boeing E-3As) provide command and control support to the Blue Team and land based radar supports the Red Team. Air to air refuelling is provided to both teams. Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) is provided by the based 125 Filo Eurocopter AS532UL Cougars or Bell UH-1H Iroquois.