A Turkey more far away from NATO is the impression that emerges after our visit to the Anatolian Eagle exercise 2021. No NATO aircraft was partecipating in the exercise, except the obeservers.
Estabilished in 2001, the Anatolian eagle viewed in its history the partecipation of several NATO air Units, and the 2021 edition had been the first one without.
Anatolian Eagle training center, located in 3rd main jet base in Konya, in the central part of Turkey, is a high level tactical training center, providing realistic combat training opportunities to Turkish air wings and allied countries in a high threat environment, more sophisiticated then the unit level trainings on aspects such as the size of airspace, tactical ranges, threat emitters and number of partecipants.
The Anatolian eagle training is not only an important step taken in meeting the training requirements of Turkey, allies and friendly countries but also taking the initiative to contribute the international reliance and cooperation by sharing the resources it possesses, gifted by its unique geographic situation.
The 2021 edition took place from 21 June to 2 July in Konya air base. The paricipants were Turkish air force with 38 F-16C/D of the 113rd ,132nd , 151st, 152nd, 181st and 191st Squadron, 1 KC-135 of 101st Squadron, 1 E-7T of 131st Squadron and 1 ANKA-S of 302nd Squadron, Turkish Navy partecipated with 2 fregates and 2 fast attack crafts, Azerbaijan air froce with 2 MiG-29 S and 2 Su-25K, Qatar air force with 4 Rafale and Pakistan air force with 5 JF-17 Thunder, 1 E-3 AWACS by NATO and Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Georgia, Iraq, Sweden, Kosovo, Lebanon, Hungary, Malaysia, Nigeria, Romania, Tunisia, Ukraine, Oman, Jordania and Japan as observers.
The international Anatolian Eagle exercise is carried out every year in Konya, except in 2020 due to covid pandemic, in a realistic combat environment to improve the capabilities of turkish and allied elements, testing new tactics and techniques, developing joint and combined operational procedures and maximize mission effectiveness by increasing mutual support between forces.
With training aids such as Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) System and the post-mission analysis system, which are used to evaluate the training performance simultaneously or in a very short time, Anatolian Eagle provides an advanced joint training environment to the participants to increase their combat readiness level.
The exercise area covers Lake Tuz and its surroindings with a size of 300×400 Km, enabling participants to employ their flight tactics without any limitations and without being affected by civilian air traffic. Since its estabilishment, a total of 43 training editions (24 international and 19 national) and about 24.000 sortie flights have been accomplished with the participation of 15 countries.
The objectives of the training were to increase the operational level of the pilots and air defense personnel in a most realistic environment, to develop joined and combined operational procedures, to decrease the attritions to a minimum level and to increase mission effectiveness to a maximum level in a real operational environment, to give a chance to fighter pilots to execute their planned tactics to employ in large force compositions, to provide a forum to exchange ideas and lessons learnt and to train the partecipants as they fight and teach them how to survive.
Anatolian Eagle exercie enhanced the training level of the participants creating a realistic combat theatre within a specific scenario: Blue forces conduct COMAO attacks against the targets on the Red land defended by the SAM systems and fighter aircraft simulating aggressor tactics.
In the AE operation center, all airborne aircraft, threat systems, AWACS and GCI cross telling can be visualized on real-time basis and post-mission assessments can be made in realistic way. In the context of the training, electronic warfare test and training range in Konya with a wide array of threat emmiters, integrated with recognized air pictures and air combat maneuvering instrumentation system (ACMI) are used to expose aircrews to a higher threat environment.
In addition to the sufrace-to-air assets, fighters of of the Red forces will gave to Blue force hard times in a simulated war environment and compel them to stay away from target area in order to let them get the best training in a realistic scenario.
Article and images: Andrea Avian