Supercruise Aviation - Article
Anatolian Eagle 2021
‘The art of winning the war is to know your enemy’

The last held Anatolian Eagle training exercise dated back from June 2019. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic the 2020 edition got cancelled. Early April 2021 word got out that the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri) would organize another international Anatolian Exercise .

Anatolian Eagle is hosted by 3rd Main Jet Base Konya, Turkey. The AETC, Anatolian Eagle Training Centre, provides the realistic combat training possibilities. This year's exercise ran from 21 June until 2 July 2021.

Military exercises are important for sharing knowledge and enhancing the training level for joint operations between countries. Exercises like Anatolian Eagle help to achieve these goals. Among others Pakistan’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Zaheer ud Din Babur visited Konya to view the international military exercise Anatolian Eagle exercise.  

In a realistically simulated operational environment, the Anatolian Eagle training exercise is executed at Konya. Main goal of the exercise is to increase the training level of pilots, air defence staff and controllers in operations, where they experience and improve joint and combined operation methods, which minimizes losses under real operation conditions and increasing task effectiveness to the maximum level. Since the establishment of the center a total of 16 countries participated.

The Anatolian Eagle Training Center established at the 3rd Main Jet Base in 2001 is one of the world’s most developed tactical training centers with its realistic threat environment. Anatolian Eagle features one of the largest worldwide military training areas with a width of about 330 km at a North-South direction and about 400 km at an East-West direction. This vast exercise area enables aircraft to execute their flight tactics without any limitations and without being affected by civilian air traffic.

During the Anatolian Eagle training exercise the blue forces, units/elements attending the training, attack the targets in the red zone protected by enemy’s air defence systems and the aircraft. During the training F-16C/D aircraft from the 132nd Squadron fly and act as the red force, or in other words the enemy. At the Anatolian Eagle Operation Center, data/information transfer between all aircraft, early warning aircraft, ground surveillance radars and other components, are monitored in real-time, coordinated and evaluated.

One of the two Phantoms visiting the Anatolian Eagle exercise.
Nice Fly-by of two Phantoms before returning to their homebase at Eskisehir airbase.
E-7T from 131 Filo, Konya airbase, returning to its homebase from another Anatolian Eagle mission.
F-16C with 162 Filo markings on its way to runway 01L for another mission.
F-16C with 113 Filo markings on its way for another Anatolian Eagle mission. No less as 6 aircraft from 113 Filo participated in this years Anatolian Eagle Training Exercise.
A F-16C from 182 Filo ‘Atmaca (Hawk)’ and normally operating out of Diyarbakir airbase.

NATO Response Force
During this years International Anatolian Eagle exercise the Turkish commitment of six F-16’s, one KC-135R Tanker aircraft and six Stinger air defense team to the NATO Response Force (NRF) was evaluated. The combat readiness and interoperability capacity committed by the Turkish Air Force to the very high readiness joint task force within the scope of NRF was supervised by NATO and national components for certification assessment .

Foreign participation
The Anatolian Eagle exercise is designed to provide training opportunities for combat ready aircrews to increase proficiency and exchange experiences with allied and partner nations. Foreign participation existed of the air forces of Azerbaijan, Qatar, and Pakistan. The Turkish Ministry of Defence explained the importance of the exercise in a tweet ‘The overall goal of the exercise is to share knowledge, ability and experience besides enhancing training level for the joint operation.’ Azerbaijan participated in the Anatolian Eagle exercise for the first time with two Mig-29 and two Su-25 aircraft. In 2019 Azerbaijan joined the exercise as observers. Qatar sent for the first time four Rafale aircraft to the exercise. In the past Qatar had sent some Mirage 2000’s to Anatolian Eagle. Turkey's rival, Greece, bought the same kind of modern French fighter jets in early 2021 and the first Rafales will be delivered to Greece later this year. Pakistan particpated with five JF-17 aircraft. The JF-17 ‘Thunder’ is developed jointly by Pakistan and China. It was the second time Pakistan committed the JF-17 to the exercise. 2019 was the first time. Nato participation consisted of an E3 Awacs which use Konya as a foward operating base.

Turkish participation
The Turkish Air Force attended the exercise with several F-16C/D aircraft from different units. Also an E-7T from 131st Filo participated. The following unit markings were noted during Anatolian Eagle: 113th Filo from from 1nci AJÜ Eskisehir, nickname ‘Ceylan (Gazelle)’, 151st Filo from 5nci AJÜ Merzifon, nickname ‘Savasan Kurt (Fighting Wolf)’, 152nd Filo from 10nci TÜK Incirlik, nickname ‘Akinci (Raiders)’, 181st Filo from 8nci AJÜ Diyarbakir, nickname ‘Pars (Leopard)’, 182nd Filo from 8nci AJÜ Diyarbakir, nickname ‘Atmaca (Hawk)’ and 191st Filo from 9nci AJÜ Balikesir, nickname ‘Kobra (Cobra)’.

According to some sources 191st Filo is disbanded but during Anatolian Eagle the unit looked alive and kicking. Other unit markings noted were among others 162nd Filo Zipkin (Harpoon) and 193rd Filo ‘Öncel’ . Aircraft belonging to these units were probably temporarely assigned to one of the above units. Although in this years Anatolian Eagle edition no Turkish Phantoms participated, two Phantoms found their way to Konya as visitors.
The Azerbaijan Air Force was present with two Mig-29’s. You have to love these colors.
Next to two Mig-29’s the Azerbaijan Air Force sent also two Su-25’s to the Anatolian Eagle exercise.
An Azerbaijan Air Force Su-25 returning from its afternoon mission. It was the first time Su-25 aircraft participated.
One of the two Su-25’s preparing for take off from runway 01L.
A Pakistan JF-17 from 26 squadron ‘black panthers’ taking off for an afternoon mission.
Qatar sent four Rafales to the Anatolian Eagle exercise. With the knowledge that Geece purchased these aircraft it was nice for Turkey to see its performance.

Adversary Air
The exercise provides a realistic operational environment. Although the leading scenario between two countries, Blueland and Redland, was imaginary, the executed missions were not. The adversary aircraft for AE was provided by one of the host units, 132 Filo ‘Dagger (Hançer)’ . 132 Filo has a role of Weapons Tactics and adversary training within the Turkish Air Force.

TF-X Project
During the media day there was also an opportunity to hear more about Turkish fifth generation fighter program. Since the political dispute between the United States and Turkey about procurement of Russian S-400 Surface-to-Air missile systems by Turkey, the USA decided to withdraw Turkey from the F-35 program. This decision meant no 5th generation fighter for Turkey. So in order to meet Turkish Air Force (TurAF) requirements beyond 2030s, an indigenous design and development program by Turkish Aerospace was started, the TF-X project. The project aims to replace the aging F-16 fleet of TurAF.

Within the scope of TF-X Program, Turkey will become one of the few countries to possess the necessary technologies, engineering infrastructure and production capabilities. Once the engineering activities on all the critical technologies are accomplished (e.g. increased situational awareness, sensor fusion, low observability, weapon bay, …etc), which are needed by a 5th generation (or beyond) jet fighter aircraft.

TF-X aircraft will be a multi-role aircraft, it will be designed mainly for air-to-air role with a consideration to air-to-surface roles as well. Upon engineering analysis, TF-X aircraft will be a multi-role aircraft, it will be designed mainly for air-to-air role with a consideration to air-to-surface roles as well. Upon engineering analysis, preliminary calculations, based on received information of suppliers of candidate engines, TF-X aircraft is decided to be a twin engine configuration.

Turkish Fighter-TF, the 5+ Generation Multirole Fighter Aircraft, provides significant capabilities in both Air to Surface and Air to Air combat requirements. Turkish Aerospace’s survivable, strong and agile platform Turkish Fighter is a fully aware warrior, with intelligent and strong combat capabilities.

Turkish Fighter provides air dominance through:
- Increased air to air engagement ranges with Novel Weapons
- Precise and accurate weapon firing from internal weapon bays at high/supersonic speed
- Augmented lethality with support of Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks.

An Iraqi C-130J visiting Konya airbase. An unexpected visitor.
Transport aircraft like the CN235 were used as slow movers and were protected by the fighter aircraft.
F-16C from 113 Filo ‘Ceylan (Gazelle)’ take off for an Anatolian Eagle afternoon mission.
A 191 Filo ‘Kobra (Cobra)’ F-16D returning. Three F-16’s from 191 Filo participated.
Red Air was provided by 132 Filo. For this occasion the F-16’s were equipped with red stickers.
F-16D from 132 Filo ‘Dagger (Hançer)’ almost touching down on the runway. 132 Filo provided Red Air. The unit has Konya as its homebase.
F-16D from 181st Filo ‘Pars (Leopard)’. Nice to see that all Turkish F-16 units apply tailart to show the unit markings.

Report and Photos by Edward Antonissen