Anadolu Kartali 2013/2

Exercise Anatolian Eagle

Konya, Turkey, 

June 2013



During the late 1990's with the conflict in the former Yugoslavia right at its doorstep, Turkey decided that the time had come for the Turkish Air Force's own realistic exercise along the lines of Red Flag. Exercises like this train aircrews in a realistic fashion preparing them for combat. The idea is to simulate the first days of a conflict, thus increasing their chances of survival and giving them an opportunity to gain the upper hand. Other examples like this include Frisian Flag in the Netherlands. 

The first Anatolian Eagle or Anadolu Kartali was organised in 2001 and included the Air Forces of Turkey, the United States and Israel. The latter country was at the time more friendly with Turkey than it is at the present time. Over the years, Belgium, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Jordan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States have all taken part at some stage. Anatolian Eagle 2013/2 was the second of this year already, the first exercise in the year always being a purely Turkish affair. Foreign participation included the United Arab Emirates Air Force and the Royal Saudi Air Force. On the last minute, the Royal Omani Air Force cancelled their participation.


The Turkish Air Force (THK, Turk Hava Kuvvetleri) was out in force, with most of their combat units detaching participants. Flying the mighty McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom in its Terminator 2020 version was 132 Filo, part of 3 Ana Jet Us Komutanligi at Konya itself. The THK still flies four squadons of F-4E Terminator 2020's in a precsion attack capacity from Konya, Eskesihir and Erhac. 

F-16's were very much in evidence with jets coming from a number of bases taking part in Anatolian Eagle. To the left is an F-16D from 141 Filo from Akinci awaiting its turn to take to the runway. At centre an F-16C from Baliksir's 191 Filo is about to touch down after a training sortie. Likewise, to the right an F-16C from sister unit within 9 AJU, 192 Filo. The latter is Turkey's famous Tiger squadron which was quite busy that week with aircraft also taking part in the NATO Tiger Meet at Ørland, Norway.

Merzifon's 151 Filo is seen to the left with one of their F-16C's. At centre, sister unit 151 Filo, also part of 5 AJU took part with a.o. this F-16C which is about to touch down. Not yet given any squadron decorations was this F-16D Block 52+ from 4 AJU at Akinci. 

Visiting countries Saudi Arabia and the UAE took part in Anatolian Eagle with respectively F-15C/D's and F-16E's. The Saudi machines were from No. 13 squadron based at Dahran-King Abdullah Aziz Air Base and in some cases constituted former USAF machines. The F-15D two seater pictured left used to be 79-0005/CR from 32 TFS at Soesterberg, the Netherlands. The F-15C at centre was received factory fresh however, as was the one on the right. 

The Saudis were in the air to air role during this exercise.

The UAE Air Force and Air Defence took part with the latest variant of the F-16, the F-16E Block 62 Desert Falcon. These differ from earlier versions in many respects, among others with a new radar system requiring the placement of the pitot head in a different  location. They fly with the three Shaheen squadrons at Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi 
As Konya was visited towards the end of the exercise, the opportunity was taken to view transport aircraft from the RSAF and UAE Air Force about to pick up personnell and their equipment for the journey home. Support for the RSAF detachment included a quartet of C-130 Hercules including two long fuselage C-130H-30's and a pair of short C-130H's. The former were with No. 4 sq, RSAF from Jeddah-Prince Abdullah Air Base, the latter from co-located No. 16 sq, RSAF. UAE AF support was made up of a single C-17A Globemaster from the UAE AF Transport Wing at Abu Dhabi-Bateen.
The only Western Europeans present were those crewing the NATO AEW Force's E-3A pair deployed to Konya. Also seen at the base were the Northrop F-5's of the THK. The end for the F-5 in its capacity as a Lead In Fighter Trainer is clearly nearing with 133 Filo already having disbanded. A small number of F-5's is still flying in order to allow pilots current on type to maintain their proficiency. 134 Akrotim Filo, better known as the Turkish Stars (Turk Yildizlari) aerobatic team is apparantly respraying its NF-5's and will be the last unit flying the type.
Some excitement was brought to Anatolian Eagle on the last flying day of the exercise when one of 3 AJU's Phantoms had to take the barrier due to a technical problem. Fortunately, there were no injuries to personnell. 

Thanks go to the Turkish Air Force as well as to 4Aviation for making this visit possible.

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink