After two years of absence, Anatolian Eagle held its annual international exercise organized by the Turkish Air Force, which was attended by Italy, the United States, Jordan, Pakistan and Qatar.
After two years of absence, due to the July 2016 coup, the “Anatolian Eagle”, the annual exercise organized by the Turkish Air Force, returns to the panorama of international exercises through the Anatolian Eagle Training Center (AETC), at the 3rd Main Jet Base of Konya, specifically dedicated to the training of NATO front line squadrons and friendly countries.
The consequences of the coup were, rightly or wrongly, particularly heavy for the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri, the Turkish Air Force, which found itself with decimated staff both in the pilots and in the organizational and command frameworks. The effects were noticeable even externally if only for the absence of the Turkish Air Force, for the whole of 2017, from all international exercises.
Last year, however, the Turkish Air Force, through its AETC, had returned to international attention by organizing the “Anatolian Phoenix” exercise, an exercise aimed mainly at rotary-wing assets, JTAC teams and components of the Special Forces, specifically dedicated to the complex themes of Personnel Recovery, in which Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus participated.
The complexity of modern warfare and the sophistication of armaments nowadays require increasingly advanced training, with particularly complex scenarios, to be challenging for aircraft capabilities and to allow for a high training return. In this context the AETC is inserted with its infrastructures, an extended airspace, 120NM for 216NM, which allows more than 60 assets to operate simultaneously, its polygons and an equipped EWTTC Electronic Warfare Test & Training Center, constitute a formidable environment training for any air force.
As Major Turgay Tümer, AETC Squadron Commander, stated during the press conference on June 26th, “the Anatolian Eagle Training Center was created to simulate as closely as possible the operating environments that pilots would encounter in the case of real operations. It allows to carry out multi-unit integrated Large Force Employment missions (LFE or COMAO ed), or specific type missions both day and night. It also constitutes a forum in which to exchange ideas in order to increase interoperability and improve the tactics, techniques and procedures (TPP) currently in use. In practice, AETC, through the two international exercises, Anatolian Phoenix and Anatolian Eagle, can be considered a laboratory in which to respond to training needs and test solutions to respond to future scenarios “.
With the diplomacy of the exercises, a term we used many times, the TuRAF (Turkish Air Force), is trying to recover its place in the international forum, after the aforementioned coup had definitely put it in a corner.
Anatolian Eagle 2019
What has been going on from 17 to 28 June is therefore the first “Anatolian Eagle” after the known events of July 2016, and the second international exercise organized over two months by the AETC. From May 13 to 24 the “Anatolian Phoenix” took place.
Although the commander of the AETC, with a special slide, wanted to show that this edition has nothing to envy to the previous edition of 2016, indeed it presents a greater number of assets, 33/45 than in 2016 against 40/48 of the edition current, although more than a few of the journalists present, the doubt has come, however, both the level of participating nations and the number of assets rescheduled based on Konya remains considerable.
Participated in the Anatolian Eagle 2019, 41st edition of the exercise:
- 3 AMX’s of the 132nd Group of the 51st Storm of Istrana,
- 3 F-16 AM / BM of the Royal Jordanian Air Force (2nd Sqn of As Shaheed Muwaffaq at Salti AB) ,
- 5 JF-17 Thunder of Pakistan Air Force (28 Sqn of Quetta / Intl), at their first appearance at an AE,
- 6 F-15E of the 494th Fighter Squadron, 48th Fighter Wing, by RAF Lakenheath,
- a C-130J and a C-17 of the Qatari Emiri Air Force (12th Sqn of Al-Udeid AB)
- E-3A Sentry of the NATO NAEW & CF E3A Component.
Of course the Turkish participation is more substantial with about 30 F-16C / D, of the various versions, belonging to the 132 Filo, 113 Filo, 152 Filo and 161 Filo, 6 F4E 2020 of the 111 Filo, a C-160 of the 221 Filo, a KC -135 of the 101 Filo and an E7-T Peace Eagle of the 131 Filo.
As in previous versions, the exercise is divided into two waves: “Eagle 1” in the morning and “Eagle 2” in the afternoon. The “Eagle 1” is a COMAO inserted in the scenario of the exercise in which all the present structures, or a large part of them, participate in relation to the type of mission that foresees the scenario. The “Eagle 2” is instead a Shadow Wave available to participants for their training needs planned within the IPC and FPC (Initial / Final Planing Conference) of the Task Oriented Mission type.
The commander of the AETC explained to us, “The scenario is the classic ‘non article 5’ crisis scenario in which a hypothetical country called ‘Red Zone’, also assisted by terrorist units, tries to occupy a portion of the territory of ‘Blue Zone in which oil wells are present. This triggered the intervention of an international coalition “.
“Every day the intelligence scenario identified targets that will have to be hit or in the mission, inserting injects made up of targets not previously identified. The scheme of the battle foresees that the ‘Red Air’ gets ready in what we call the Cap Limite Line CLL, and the Blue Air in what we call (there are more than one – editor’s note) Marshall Limit Line MLL. Of course the CLL and the MLL are diametrically opposed to the battlefield. No aircraft can cross the respective start lines before the start of the VUL TIME Vulnerability Time (ie the time in which the crews will be precisely vulnerable, ie exposed to the enemy threat – editor’s note ) ”.
“The types of missions in” Eagle 1 “waves are the classic Air Warfare missions: OCA, DCA, DT, TST, ASFAO, RECCE, SMP, HVAA-P, TAD and C2. While the most requested activities in the “Eagle 2” were: missions on the EWTTC range, DACT missions and low-level navigation missions. No participant has requested the execution of night missions or the use of dummy drop equipment ”.
“In total, 389 sorties were carried out, most of which belonged to the” Eagle 1 “missions.”
We meet Major Davide D., commander of the 132 Group: “The participation of the AMX line in the Anatolian Eagle exercise stems from the need to exercise it in an international context but carrying out different missions with respect to the RECCE missions that we have mainly played in the last 3 years in the theater of operations. Consider that here there is a structure specifically dedicated to organizing exercises and / or training activities. The impact, with due proportions, is what a participant has at the “Red Flag”, which remains the highest level of training activity, but here we find the same organization. This is certainly a strength of the exercise.
The exercise is developed in a low, medium and high intensity intelligence scenario on a series of sensitive objectives and in the planning and management of COMAO, therefore of complex operations.
What has characterized us is our flexibility and ability to go and cover targets that are not pre-planned, so we are talking about Dynamic Targeting and Time Sensitive Target. Having as a rule of engagement, from the scenario, the maximum attention to collateral damage has been a particular focus on the use of precision armament with Lases or GPS guidance. Also here we could use an Electronic War polygon, with real or simulated systems, rediscoverable during the flight activity that makes the mission highly paying and also combat A / A against decidedly unusual set-ups for us. Consider that in a few years (the closure of the line is scheduled for 2021 ed), most AMX pilots will transit on another aircraft, EF-2000 and F-35. So the experience accumulated in an exercise like this will be particularly useful to them.
To conclude, the training level was very high. Once again we demonstrated the efficiency of the AMX line, the missions canceled for technical reasons were zero. Consider that in 9 days we performed just under 50 missions with a pilot component below 10 units. A reason of particular pride, let me say it, it was also the award given to one of our pilot as the best MC Mission Commander, by the organizing body of the exercise (the exercise foresees this role is assigned in turn to the participating departments – editor’s note), for how he managed a particularly complex mission with precision, effectiveness and flexibility that led to the complete success of the mission “.
The future of the Anatolian Eagle.
The geographic position of Turkey and its geostrategic relations are also reflected in the nations participating in the exercise, guaranteeing a certainly particular level of internalization. The same commander of the 132nd Group confessed to us that it was the first time he had seen a JF-17. And this allows an exchange of experiences that cannot be found in other training contexts.
But watching the local TV during our stay in Konya there were several broadcasts on the subject S-400 / F-35. Here is perhaps a possible limitation of the future Anatolian Eagle, that of being excluded from the training activities necessary for integration between 4th and 5th generation.
Text and photos: Gianluca Storti and Sergio Lanna