The challenge between Turkey and Greece for the supremacy over the Aegean Sea passes even trought the aim to hold the most important exercise in the southern border of NATO alleance.

The Anatolian Eagle exercise was born on 2001 to simulate the most realistic operational environment, to plan multi-unit integrated Large Force Employment (LFE) or Task Oriented Mission, day and night and to provide a forum to exchange ideas in order to increase the interoperability and revise standard tactics, techniques and procedures. Over the years it aquires more complexity and importance. Its greek antagonist is named Iniohos, and both exercises saw a Blu force which has to destroy an enemy Red force, performing COMAO opertions, including all the armed forces, in the air, in the ground and in the sea.

Every year the Anatolian Eagle attracted many aircraft from several Air Forces and it is gaining a reputation as one of the world’s leading fighter aircraft training events. We went in Turkey to attend to an operational work day during the exercise.

The exercise is held in Konya air base, in the central part of Turkey, and the 2019 edition, starting on 17th June  until 28th June, saw the partecipation of seven countries, Turkey, Jordania, Pakistan, Qatar, Italy, USA and Azerbaijan, this last one only as observer.

The aircraft involved saw all the inventory in service with Turkish Air Force, with the legendary F-4E Phantom in the Turkish upgraded version 2020, belonging to 111 Filo from Eskisehir air base, F-16 C/D Block 30 and 52+ belonging to 113-132-152 and 161 Filo, E-7, C-130, CN-235, C-160, KC-135  and 3 F-16 C/D from Jordanian Air Force, 5 JF-17 Thunder from Pakistan Air Force, 3 AMX from 132 Gruppo of Italian Air Force, 6 US F-15E Strike Eagle from Lakenhaeth AB, one C-130 and one C-17 from Qatar Air Force and one E-3 Awacs from NATO.

As the Turkish Air Force spokesman said, the Anatolian Eagle is a training center that provides air centric joint training to Turkish and allied/friendly Armed Forces personnel with the most realistic live simulations of the operational environment, a laboratory in which needs are determined and solutions are developed.

The exercise was based on continuosly updated scenarios and missions with modern technology, with the aim to give the opportunity to compare and to improve capabilties and tactics, techniques and procedures between the partecipants.

During the exercise 389 sorties had flown by the partecipants including all the specialites of air combat missions, such as Close Air Support (CAS), Time Sensitive Targeting (TST), Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Ground Assisted Air Interdiction (GAAI), Point Defense, Hostage Rescue, Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC), Infiltartion/exfiltration, Ofensive/Defensive Counter Air (OCA/DCA), Reconnaissance, Soppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD).

The exercise objectives were to share experiences and tactics between all the assets, to strengthen military relationships and develop interoperability with the partecipants and to execute bi/unilateral training to increase training level and combat readiness.

Not last, even to experience the possible ground assisted Joint Task Force (JTF) missions in a similar operation environment with a realistic scenario and make necessary feedbacks for the organization personnel, to identify faults and to develop solutions. With the Anatolian Eagle, Turkish Air Force maintains its deep relationship with other members of NATO and can compare its combat level to the NATO standards.

Article and images: Andrea Avian

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