Türkiye’s first aircraft participation in a Red Flag taking place in August 1997, with the deployment of six F-16 Fighting Falcons and 57 personnel.
Anatolian Eagle training enhances the training level of the participants by creating a realistic combat theatre with a specific scenario, with ‘Blue’ forces COMAO attacks against ‘Red’ targets defended by SAM systems and fighter aircraft acting as Aggressors. Reactivated in 1992, 132 Filo Hançerler's role is to provide Weapons, Tactics and Adversary Training. Based at Konya, the unit initially operated the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter. Since withdrawal of the type in 2007, the squadron has operated the Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon, with a mix of Block 40 and Block 50 aircraft, and both single-seat C; and two-seat D-models on strength. The photo left, shows a single-seat F-16C Block 50 model landing after a mission during AE-22.
This former Belgian Air Force F-16AM carries the serial '148', and also sports what appears to be a non-standard paint scheme. Most RJAF Vipers wear the standard two-tone grey camouflage similar to F-16s operated by most countries, (as seen in the F-16BM in the photos), however this one has a distinctive blue hue to the upper fuselage surfaces, illustrated in the two photos of it here (right an upper right).
181 Filo Leopard is based at Diyarbakir and currently flies the F-16C Block 40, and the F-16D Block 50+
RJAF F-16BM serial number 134, is seen departing Konya on 29 June for a morning COMAO mission in conjunction with Turkish and Pakistani F-16s, and Royal Air Force Typhoon FGR4s from the United Kingdom.
AE-22 is conducted in a ‘real’ scenario in order to improve the capabilities and training of the participating forces, providing a platform to perform joint combat operations and to understand and compare the operational procedures of different aircraft types.
The fundamental scenario of Anatolian Eagle sees the offensive ‘Blue’ team working in a Combined Air Operation (COMAO) scenario, homing in on the tactical and strategic targets in the ‘Red’ lands, which are defended by fighter aircraft and surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. The Command & Control Centre is where the information (location, position and flight information) is transferred through the participating aircraft’s Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation (ACMI), and is observed in ‘real-time’ - the tracks detected by orbiting AWACS aircraft and surface radar. The Multi Aegis Site Emulator (MASE) Operation Centre, overseas Anatolian Eagle sorties and daily base flights, which are controlled and commanded from here. Anatolian Eagle training is as close to a real war environment as possible, with the use of high-level technology, which maximises the use of modern computer technology to monitor the ‘war’ and to analyse every mission flown - testing the knowledge and abilities of all participants to raise the level of the training, with simulations of tactical firing and electronic warfare based on the Red Flag model.
Six Lockheed Martin F-16A/BM Block 15 from 11(MR) Squadron, part of Southern Air Command's 39 Multi-role Wing at Shahbaz air base, participated in AE-2022.
The F-16s were supported by an Ilyushin Il-78MP from 10 (MRTT) Squadron at Islamabad, alongside a Lockheed C-130E Hercules from 6 Squadron, also based at Islamabad.
One of the Vipers', F-16B 84606 (81-0936) carried a 'kill' marking on the nose, supposedly representing the shoot down of an Indian Air Force Sukhoi SU-30MKI from 221 Squadron, with an AIM-120C AMRAAM on 27th February 2019, by Wing Commander Hasan Siddiqui.
The art of war is to know your enemy. It is vital to be aware of the enemy’s expertise and capabilities, whilst increasing one’s own strengths and overcoming the weaknesses. Military exercises are a key component of sharing knowledge, abilities, expertise and enhancing the training level for joint operations between two or more countries. Anatolian Eagle is aimed at improving the capabilities of mutual support between forces through various tactics and techniques in a real combat environment.
ANATOLIAN EAGLE 2022 (AE-22) exercise took place at 3rd Main Jet Base, Konya, at the end of June.
ANATOLIAN EAGLE (Anadolu Kartali) is one of the largest and most complex joint air force exercises in the world. Hosted by the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force - TuAF), Anatolian Eagle mimics a realistic aerial war, and attracts some interesting and varied participants, many of which are rarely, if ever seen in European skies. Although slighter smaller in scale than in recent years, AE-22 still drew large numbers of media and spotters alike in the hope of something 'special'.
The Sukhoi Su-25 Grach (Russian: Грач (rook); NATO reporting name: Frogfoot) is a subsonic, single-seat, twin-engine jet aircraft developed in the Soviet Union and built at Factory 31 in Tbilisi, in the former-Soviet Republic of Georgia.
Bort '09' is seen here with the 41 mission markings mentioned earlier, clearly visible.
Two Block 40 aircraft (91-0001 and 92-0008) both wore the markings of 162 Filo, which was disbanded back in 2016. We can only presume that the unit has been reformed and presumably back at Bandirma alongside 161 Filo
161 Filo flew the Block 50+ version of the F-16D at AE-22. Note the different squadron insignia applied to the port and starboard side of the tailfin
The 'Red Forces' in Anatolian Eagle are all Turkish Air Force units – normally a squadron of F-16 and a surface-to-air missile unit. Providing the fast-jet adversary element was the Konya-based 132 Filo Dagger, with 10 of their Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcons. A D-version 'Block 40' is seen right, recovering to Konya following an afternoon mission on 29 June.
Providing support for the PAKAF contingent was this Ilyushin Il-78M. Pakistan signed an agreement with Ukraine to procure four IL-78 refuelling aircraft equipped with Russian-designed UPAZ refuelling pods, with the first aircraft delivered in December 2009. R10-002 was the second aircraft delivered and is seen arriving at Konya on 30 June to take the F-16s back home.
Powered by two 750hp engines, Akinci-B has a 20-meter (65-foot) wingspan and is equipped with fully
As is the norm with the majority of the RAF's Typhoon fleet, none of the aircraft deployed to Konya carried any distinguishing markings such as squadron insignia. ZK311 sits on the ramp at Konya (photo, right) receiving some minor maintenance whilst its three colleagues are involved in a morning mission over the ranges.
(high-explosive), long-range anti-tank missile system (L-UMTAS) missile, MK-81, MK-82, MK-83 guided bombs (JDAM), Gokdogan and Bozdogan air-to-air missiles and SOM-A stand-off missile.
environment; To give fighter pilots the chance to execute their planned tactics in large force compositions; To provide a forum to exchange ideas and discuss lessons learned; To train participants as they fight and to teach them how to survive in a hostile environment.
Anatolian Eagle aims to provide the most accurate simulated war environment possible, enabling the TuAF to introduce and assess new weapons systems, whilst testing the knowledge and capability of participants by presenting various kinds of surface-to-air threats. The success of Anatolian Eagle is apparent in the fact that since its inception, the number of participants in the exercise has increased dramatically. In the early 1990s, surrounded by changing threat landscapes, most European countries reduced defence
A total of 28 F-16s from the Turkish Air Force were involved in the Anatolian Eagle exercise, along with the Boeing E-7T from 131 Filo, which are based Konya; a single Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker from 101 Filo at Incirlik providing air-to-air refuelling; and a Bayraktar Akıncı Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) - a High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) platform. F-16s from a number of different squadrons participated; although two aircraft bore the markings of 162 Filo which had been disbanded - has it been resurrected?
Initially, the Azerbaijan Air Force had planned to bring four aircraft to Anatolian Eagle; two Sukhoi SU-25s and two Mikoyan MiG-29s. However, a number of MiG-29s are known to have been destroyed by Russian attacks on the Lviv Aircraft Repair Plant in Ukraine, where some were on overhaul. It is believed 3-4 aircraft were damaged and this has probably impacted on the availability of the aircraft, meaning that just the SU-25s participated, much to the annoyance of the spotter community!
Operating in the air-to-ground role during AE-22, the two Sukhoi Su-25 from SU-25 Eskadrilya, at Kürdəmir air base, flew regular missions out of Konya. Both aircraft carried 'Mission' markings on the nose - '09' with 37 and '33' with 41, presumably conducted during the war with Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
'AKINCI ' UCAV
Four British Aerospace (BAe) Typhoon FGR4’s from the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force participated in Anatolian Eagle 2022. The Typhoons came from 3 (F) Squadron based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, although these particular aircraft arrived from Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in Romania, where they have been operating as part of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (140 EAW), under Operation Biloxi, a long-standing NATO Air Policing mission for the Black Sea region.
113 Filo Gazelle is based at Eskişehir and now appears to be operating Block 40 aircraft. It had previously flown the Block 30 and Block 50 versions
Nominally based at Geilenkirchen, Germany, the Boeing E-3A Sentry continues to soldier on as the mainstay of NATO's Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). LX-N90456 was deployed to Konya for Anatolian Eagle 2022 and is seen here taxying out to Runway 01L for a morning mission. The NATO E-3 provided the 'eye in the sky' for AE-22 in conjunction with the Turkish Air Force's Boeing E-7T fleet, which are based at Konya with 131 Filo.
NATO E-3A AWACS, Turkish E-7T AEW&W aircraft and the Turkish Control & Reporting Center (CRC). New to NATO's inventory, the Deployable Air Defence Radar (DADR), part of NATO’s Air Command and Control System (ACCS), was deployed to a NATO country for the first time, a significant element of its Integrated Air and Missile Defence System (NATINAMDS) capability.
PAKAF Lockheed C-130E Hercules also provided support for the 11 Squadron F-16s, with #4148 seen just after landing on 30 June. Operated by 6 Squadron at Islamabad, C-130 Hercules and Il-78s provided support and air-to-air refuelling for the PAKAF Vipers on their way both to and from Anatolian Eagle.
Having completed another morning mission, the two Sukhoi 25 pilots head back for a de-brief
spending, downsized their armed forces capacities, and introduced narrow airspace and environmental restrictions on military training exercises. In the context of this diminished capacity, Anatolian Eagle provides the kind of training ground that can no longer be maintained by many countries, particularly within Europe and the NATO alliance.
Türkiye regards NATO and the United Nations as vital for the maintenance of international peace and order. As one of the unique air-to-air, air-to-ground, and electronic warfare training exercises in the world, Anatolian Eagle is the only event of its kind in the region with both NATO and non-NATO participants.
151 Filo is based at Merzifon, flying both Block 40 and Block 50 versions of the F-16, with single-seat and twin-seat aircraft on strength
Upon completion of AE-22, participants, senior dignitaries and invited guests pose for photographs outside the Anatolian Eagle Training Center at Konya
Anatolian Eagle training enhances the training level of the participants by creating a realistic combat theatre with a specific scenario, with ‘Blue’ forces COMAO attacks against ‘Red’ targets defended by SAM systems and fighter aircraft acting as Aggressors.Simply put, Anatolian Eagle’s objectives are:- To i ncrease the operational training level of the pilots and air defence personnel in a realistic operational environment; To exercise and develop joint and combined operational procedures; To reduce attrition to a minimum level and to increase mission effectiveness to a maximum level in a realistic operational
developing training and intelligence scenarios, planning air tasking orders, monitoring real-time executed training, and directing training from the ground. The Blue Forces are comprised of allied air forces as well as Turkish Army and Naval units. The Red Forces are all Turkish Air Force units – normally a squadron of F-16 and a surface-to-air missile unit.
Although no F-4 Phantoms participated in Anatolian Eagle 2022, the Turkish Air Force deemed fit to fly in a couple of the aircraft from Eskişehir to perform on the 'Spotters Day' at the end of the exercise. The two aircraft from 111 Filo 'Pantera' were both adorned with special paint schemes and put on a display for the enthusiasts that sent everyone home more than happy. With blue skies and the mighty 'Spook' in the air, what more could you ask?
Silāḥ ul-Jawu al-Malakī ’al-Urdunī (Royal Jordanian Air Force - RJAF)
The Anatolian Eagle exercise is conducted in a ‘real’ scenario in order to improve the capabilities and training skills of the participating forces, providing a platform to perform joint combat operations and to understand and compare the operational procedures of various aircraft, maximizing and enhancing mutual support between the forces.
The Bayraktar Akıncı is a High-Altitude Long-Endurance (HALE) Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle (UCAV) manufactured by the Turkish technology company Baykar. In service with 341 Filo, it is billed as "the world’s most powerful and highest combat-capable unmanned combat aerial vehicle” in its class, the Akinci (Raider) entered service with the Turkish Air Force in August 2021.
We would like to thank everyone involved in Anatolian Eagle 2022 for their assistance and hospitality during our two days at Konya. Particularly the Turkish Air Force Public Affairs, who once again did their best in ensuring we had the opportunity to photograph all of the aircraft and provide us with refreshments on both days.
We would also like to thank the participating air forces for the involvement and the access they provided to us, and we look forward to visiting you again in the future.
"Be a Hunter, not the Hunted"
The first Anatolian Eagle was held by TuAF Operations Command 18–29 June 2001, with the USA and Israel also participating. Located at the 3rd Main Jet Base in Konya, which sits on the periphery of the vast Konya plain in Central Anatolia - a sparsely populated flat basin and an ideal location for an exercise of this magnitude. The extensive training area is 216 miles in length and 120 miles in width, with five separate smaller zones ranging between 1.5 and 3.2 square nautical miles, with the main operational airspace available up to 50,000 feet.
Anatolian Eagle training follows a similar format to the United States Red Flag exercises, which have been held at Nellis Air Base since 1983. Türkiye initially sent aircrew to Red Flag as observers, with
Seen on approach to Konya air base during AE-22, #85728 was one of three single-seat Vipers from 11 Squadron PAKAF
The three Silāḥ ul-Jawu al-Malakī ’al-Urdunī (Royal Jordanian Air Force - RJAF) Lockheed Martin F-16AM/BMs that attended Anatolian Eagle this year came from 1 Squadron based at As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti Air Base. Two of the aircraft were former Royal Netherlands Air Force aircraft (133 previously J-650; 134 previously J-653) and one was a former Belgian Air Force aircraft (148 previously FA76).
The two F-16B Block 20s at AE-22 were both delivered to the RJAF as part of 'Peace Falcon IV', whilst the F-16A was part of the 'Peace Falcon III' delivery. All three aircraft have been undergone a Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) since delivery. The three multi-role aircraft operated as part of the 'Blue' forces in AE-22 in COMAOs against ‘Red’ targets defended by SAM systems and 'Red' fighters acting as Aggressors.
In the photo right, Bort number '33' is seen on approach to Runway 01L at Konya. The aircraft had just completed an afternoon mission in conjunction with a number of Turkish Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from 132 Filo.
Azerbaijan Air Force. Although a former Soviet-bloc country, Azerbaijan did not inherit any Su-25s after the collapse of the USSR. Two of its aircraft are from defections by a USSR pilot and a Georgian pilot.
Pāk Fizāʾiyah (Pakistan Air Force – PakAF)
United Kingdom - Royal Air Force (RAF)
The NATO Airborne Early Warning Force (NATO AEWF) established a Forward Operating Base (FOB) at Konya in October 1983.
The Turkish and overseas squadrons participating in Anatolian Eagle are stationed in White, Blue-1, Blue-2 and Blue-3 buildings, with each building having its own briefing rooms. The White Forces, comprise Turkish Air Force personnel and allied observers in charge of planning -
Boeing E-7T 'Dogu' (East) departs Konya during AE-22. The E-7T is based on the Boeing 737-700 commercial airliner, with an advanced radar capable of detecting air and maritime targets simultaneously. The Turkish Air Force has operated the type since 2014. The aircraft can produce a Recognized Air Picture (RAP), having 10 state-of-the-art mission crew consoles, where highly trained operators detect, identify and track objects with the long-range radar and passive sensor.
191 Filo Cobra is equipped with the Block 50 version of the Viper and is based at Balikesir
Azərbaycan Hərbi Hava Qüvvələri - (Azerbaijani Air Force – AzAF)
automatic flight control and a triple-redundant autopilot system. The aircraft was clearly put through its paces during AE-22, being very much in evidence on a number of occasions. The Akinci-B was utilised in the reconnaissance and Time Sensitive Target (TST) roles during AE-22. The fifth aircraft delivered to the TuAF (PT-5) is seen in the two images above and right.
The weapons payload includes the Cirit missile, Bozok mini-smart munition, MAM-L (thermobaric), MAM–C
The Anatolian Eagle Training Center (AETC), located in 3rd Main Jet Base, Konya, is a high-level tactical training centre, providing realistic combat training opportunities to the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (Turkish Air Force/TuAF) and friendly countries. It's high-threat environment provides more sophisticated training than the standard unit level training provided, offering aspects such as the large tactical ranges, threat emitters and large numbers of participants. Since its establishment in 2001, 46 Anatolian Eagle training exercises have taken place, involving more than 33,000 personnel and 2,000 aircraft; with some 25,000 sorties flown from 15 different countries. Anatolian Eagle 2022 (AE-22) ran in conjunction with NATO's Deployment and Readiness Exercise Ramstein Dust -II 2022 (RADU II-22), which saw the two exercises combine AirC2 assets together with
Azerbaijan 2 x Sukhoi SU-25
Jordan 3 x F-16AM/BM
NATO 1 x E-3A
Pakistan 6 x F-16AM/BM
Türkiye 28 x F-16C/D
1 x E-7T
1 x KC-135R
1 x Akinci UCAV
United Kingdom 4 x Typhoon FGR.4