Anatolian Eagle 2021

Konya AB, Turkey

21 June - 2 July 2021




After skipping a year, from June 21 to July 2, 2021, the international version of the Anatolian Eagle exercise took place at Turkeys 3rd Main Jet Base, Konya.The International version of Anatolian Eagle takes place every year under normal circumstances, and is facilitated/organized by the Anatolian Eagle Training Center, at Konya Air Base.The main purposes of Anatolian Eagle are:

  • improve the capabilities of the participating units;

  • test new tactics and techniques;

  • develop joint and combined operational procedures;

  • optimize/maximize mission effectiveness;

  • to increase mutual cooperation between the participating air forces.

Training aids such as the Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation (ACMI) System and the Post-Mission Analysis System are used to evaluate the missions simultaneously or in a very short time.In 2020, the exercise was canceled due to Corona. In addition to Turkish participants, this edition had exotic participants in the form of the air forces of Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Qatar. It is striking that the participation of other NATO countries has decreased. This edition only saw the participation of a NATO E-3A AWACS. Coincidentally, NATO has an E-3A detachment on Konya. The reason may lie in Corona and the somewhat cooled relations between Turkey and a number of NATO partners.

AE2021-2

The exercise gives the Pakistanis the opportunity to practice with Rafales and MiG-29s, types available to their rival India. This is not entirely true as India's MiG-29s have undergone an MLU, bringing them to the improved MiG-29SMT standard. Greece now also has the Rafale, for the Turks also an optimal opportunity to fly against, and train with the Rafales. The training scenarios take place over a period of two weeks. In the first week, two daily missions are flown, Eagle 1 and Eagle 2. Eagle 1 starts at 9:30 AM (LT) and lasts until approximately 11:00 AM, Eagle 2 runs from 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM. In the second week, two missions will also be flown for the first three days. On Thursday July 1, only a very small mission went out in the afternoon, mainly to do a photo flight. On Friday the non-based participants departed for home.

The training center consists of a number of buildings and houses the Red Forces, Blue Forces and White HQ. White HQ is in charge of preparing the training scenarios and submitting the Air Tasking Orders to the teams.

Several scenarios are flown during the exercise, including:

  • Combat Air Patrol (CAP), Fighter sweep and Fighter escort;

  • Air to ground;

  • Suppression/destruction of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD);

  • High value asset protection;

  • Reconnaissance;

  • Close Air Support (CAS);

  • Slow mover protection;

  • Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR).

During this Anatolian Eagle Exercise, the certification by NATO and the Turks will also take place for the first time of Turkish Air Force units that can be deployed in the NATO Response Force (NRF). The deployability and interoperability of 6x F-16s, 1x KC-135R tanker aircraft and 6x Stinger Air Defense Teams assigned by the Turkish Air Force to the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) as part of NRF will be evaluated.

Altough not participating in the exercise a welcome suprise were two visiting F-4E-2020s from 111 Filo, both with special tail markings, 77-0288 70th annniversary NATO and 77-296 60th Years F-4, the latter was present during AE2019, the last time the F-4s participated.

Observers

Bangladesh, Belarus, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Georgia, Iraq, Sweden, Kosovo, Lebanon, Hungary, Malaysia, Nigeria, Romania, Tunisia, Ukraine, Oman, Jordan and Japan.

For the exercise there was a Blueland (the good ones) and a Redland (the bad ones). The Blueland Air Force was made up of 36 Turkish Air Force aircraft, and 20 the international participants. During the exercise Blueland flew in total 330 missions and Redland circa 50.

The Red Forces consisted of Turkish Air Force F-16s.

132 Filo took part with eight F-16s, the Aggressors were the last to leave and the first to return. 132 Filo is the dedicated TuAF Aggressor squadron and flies a mix of Block 30, 40 and 50 F-16s. the Block 30 is most suitable for the Aggressor role as the flight controls of this version are not limited yet.

It was nice that for the aggressor task on a number of the 132 Filo aircraft the leading edge of the tail and part of the vertical tail surfaces were temporarily painted red.


Redland opponents In the exercise, Redland had the EF-2000, MiG-29, F-16, Su-27, Su-30 and the F-1, which were simulated by 132 Filo. On the ground, the Redland has various SAM systems, these are the Russian SA-6 Gainfull, SA-8 Gecko, SA-11A/B Gadfly missiles, ZSU-23-4 Gundish four-barreled cannon and the western Skyguard/Sparrow, Hawk missiles and the MTS mobile radar system. A number of these are present or are being simulated. Surprisingly enough, the Russian S-400 that Turkey has purchased and which was much fussed about is not on the list.

Some more details about the exotic participants of AE2021

Azərbaycan Hərbi Hava Qüvvələri, Azerbaijan Air Force.

Turkey has good ties with Azerbaijan, there is also cooperation in the field of defense. Previously, training was done together on Konya in the form of the exercise TURAZ FALCON which was held in March-April 2015, March 2016 and September 2018. Azerbaijan participated with MiG-29s, Su-25s and Mi-8s. The Turks, in turn, went to Ganja AB in Azerbaijan in July 2020 where they participated with F-16s in the exercise “TurAz Qartalı-2020”. Observers from Azerbaijan attended AE in June 2019. Which led to the participation this year.

MiG-29

Participants: 2x MiG-29 9.13 of the MIQ-29 Eskadrilya at Nasosnaya AB: 06 Blue (2960718706) and 07 Blue (2960718700) c/n as delivered in 2007.

The MiG-29s originate from the Ukraine and were delivered from 2007. The aircraft were built in 1987-88, delivered to the Soviet Air Force, transferred to the Ukraine Air Force in 1992. Azerbaijan received 12 MiG-29 type 9.13 in 2006-2007, recognizable by the slightly raised fuselage. plus two MiG-29UB trainers, followed by two additional UBs in 2009 and 2011. The MiGs have blue and white outlined codes on the side of air intakes. The single-seaters 01-09, 11-12 and 14, and the trainers 10 and 20, and the two extra UBs are the 15 and 33.

Su-25

Participants: 2x Su-25 of the Su-25 Eskadrilya at Kyurdamir AB: 09 Blue (c/n 25508110649, 37 mission symbols on the left side of the nose) and 23 Blue (58 mission symbols).

With the Su-25 it is vague. The first Su-25 was flown to Azerbaijan in April 1992 by a Russian defector, later another Su-25 by a defector from Georgia. The Azerbaijan Air Force, which had just been established in 1992, illegally bought five aircraft, presumably from the Ukraine. These were immediately deployed in the border conflict with Armenia, during this conflict four were shot down until April 1994. In the period 2009-2013, 12 Su-25s received from Belarus followed. Newly built aircraft were also ordered from the TAM factory in Georgia, TAM is the continuation of the factory where the Su-25 single-seaters were built in the Soviet Union. Initially, six Su-25s were ordered in about 2002, followed in 2005 by six single-seaters and a Su-25U trainer. And finally in 2008 an follow-on order for 15 new built Su-25s.

The supply of engines for this series was a problem after the border conflict between Russia and Georgia. In the end engines were ordered in Russia and installed in Azerbaijan in 2010.

A number of Su-25s ordered from TAM had already been built in circa 1996-97, and were put into storage disassembled without a customer.

Both Su-25s that took part in AE had mission symbols on the left nose, possibly applied during the recent conflict with Armenia.

The Su-25s have blue and white outlined codes on the nose. Known are single-seaters 01-09, 11-12, 14, 16-19, 22-28 and 31-38, and two-seaters 15, 20, 30 and 55.

Azerbaijan seems to be interested in purchasing the JF-17. AE is a great opportunity to learn more about the capabilities of the JF-17.

Pakistan Fizaya (PAF, Pakistan Air Force)

Pakistan participates in the exercise with five JF-17 Block II fighter jets from the 16th Multi-Role the Black Panthers Squadron. The Pakistan Air Force already participated in the exercise with the JF-17 Thunder earlier in 2019. Pakistan previously participated six times with the F-16.

Pakistan has developed the JF-17-Thunder in collaboration with China. The JF-17 is being built in Pakistan. It is a multi-role aircraft for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat tasks. The first series consisted of eight units, followed by 42 Block Is, 62 Block IIs, and 26 JF-17B two-seaters. Currently in production, the improved Block III is a modern aircraft in many ways. For example the version has an AESA radar.

Having seen the JF-17 in demo, it appears to be a reminiscent of a Jaguar, Mirage F1. The fact that the aircraft participate with three drop tanks indicates that the flight range is limited without tanks. And with the tanks, maneuverability is very limited.

16th Multi-Role Black Panthers Squadron previously flew the F-86, was disbanded in October 1982. Reactivated in 1983 equipped with the Chinese A-5 III Fantan an attack aircraft developed from the F-6. 16 Squadron received the JF-17 Block-I in March 2011, and in 2015 was the first squadron to be equipped with the Block-II.

JF-17

Participants: 17-244, 18-252, 18-255, 18-256 and 19-257.


Qatar Emiri Air Force (EQAF)

Qatar attends the exercise intermittently. The first participation was in 2014 with the Mirage 2000DDA/EDA. Qatar again participated in 2019 with the four Mirage 2000s, a C-17 and a C-130. This year, the QEAF will participate with four Rafales. Qatar will receive 24 Rafales, six DQ duals and 18 EQ single-seaters. An option for 12 pieces was later converted into an order, with the mix between DQ/EQs not yet known. The Rafale takes part in AE for the first time. French Rafales previously participated in the NATO Tiger Meet that took place in 2015 in Konya. In addition to Qatar, the Rafale has been exported to Egypt, India and Greece.

In addition to the Rafales, Qatar has ordered 36 Boeing F-15QA Strike Eagles and 24 Eurofighters. All in all a significant expansion considering Qatar has 12 Mirage 2000DDA/EDA . Apparently Qatar considers dependence on a supplier too, great a risk. We see more often that air forces spread their procurement over different countries, other examples are Egypt (with the F-16, Rafale and F-16) and India (Rafale, Su-30).

At Konya we heard some rumours that, given the tight training space in Qatar, F-15QAs and Rafales will be based in Turkey (Konya AB) in the near future. Time will tell.

Rafale DQ/EQ

Participants: 4x Rafale DQ/EQ from Al Adiyat Squadron at Tamim AB: Rafale DQ QA202; and Rafale EQ QA210, QA222 and QA223.

Rafale DQ QA202

Rafale DQ QA202

Rafale EQ QA210

Rafale EQ QA222

Details participating units AE-21/2

Azerbaijan Air Force

  • 2x MiG-29 9.13 of the MIQ-29 Eskadrilya at Nasosnaya AB: 06 Blue (2960718706) and 07 Blue (2960718700) c/n as delivered in 2007

  • 2x Su-25 of the Su-25 Eskadrilya at Kyurdamir AB: 09 Blue (c/n 25508110649, 37 mission symbols on the left side of the nose, reminding of the recent war against Armenia) and 23 Blue (58 mission symbols)

Qatar Emiri Air Force

  • 4x Rafale DQ/EQ from Al Adiyat Squadron at Tamim AB: Rafale DQ QA202 and Rafale EQ QA210, QA222 and QA223

Pakistan Air Force

  • 5x JF-17 Thunder from 16(MR)sq Black Thunder at Minhas/Kamra Air Base: 17-244; 18-252; 18-255; 18-256 and 19-257

NATO

  • 1x E-3A (LX-N90448) from NAEW&CF at Geilenkirchen


Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (TurAF, Turkish Air Force)

  • 5x F-16C/D from 113 Filo Ceylan (Gazelle) at Eskisehir

  • 6x F-16C/D from 151 Filo Savasan Kurt (Fighting Wolf) at Merzifon

  • 6x F-16C/D from 152 Filo Akinci (Raiders) at Incirlik

  • 8x F-16C/D from 181 Filo Pars (Leopard) at Diyarbakir

  • 3x F-16C/D from 192 Filo Kaplan (Tiger) at Balikesir

  • 1x KC-135R from 101 Filo Asena at Incirlik

  • 1x E-7T from 131 Filo Ejder (Dragon) at Konya

  • 1x Anka-S UAS from 302 Filo Simsek (Light) at Incirlik

TurAF agressor role

  • 8x F-16C/D from 132 Filo Hançer (Dagger) at Konya

Publications

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Thanks

With thanks to the Headquarters of the the Turkish Air Force, the Turkish Embassy in The Netherlands, and to all the other individual persons for their great support and hospitality during our visit.

Authors: Marinus Dirk Tabak (text) and Ton van Schaik (photos)