Exercise Report : Anatolian Eagle 2019
Anatolian Eagle 2019 – Konya, Turkey
George Karavantos visited Turkey to attend Exercise Anatolian Eagle 2019 on June 26-27.
From June 17 to 28, the Turkish Air Force hosted the multi-national exercise "Anatolian Eagle 2019" at the Third Main Jet Base, Konya, Turkey.
During these twelve days, around 600 personnel of the Turkish Air Force were involved in launching fighters from all its Tactical Air Commands and along with other 450 personnel of the other participating air arms, the exercise accumulated a total of around 400 sorties. In the exercise's scenarios, strike packages faced all available air defence systems provided by all branches of the Turkish armed forces. The Turkish Air Force cooperated with other assets from the Turkish Army and the Turkish Navy. All the participating air forces train in engaging various target types, ranging from tanks and frigates to air bases or other high-value assets.
Anatolian Eagle 2019 included participation from the United States, Pakistan, Jordan, Italy, Qatar, and NATO AEW&C Force. Azerbaijan joined the exercise as an observer country. The most notable participant was the Pakistan Air Force. In the past the PAF attended with F-16A/B aircraft, but this year they participated with six JF-17 Thunders!
Another notable participant was the Royal Jordanian Air Force with three of its F-16 MLUs. A regular attendee returning was the Italian Air Force, this time with its AMX “Ghibli” of the 51° Stormo from Istana, Treviso. These aircraft will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in September. Despite the expectations of seeing F-35s at Konya's Air Base, the American presence in this year’s Anatolian Eagle was limited to six USAFE F-15E Strike Eagles from the 492nd Fighter Squadron of the 48th Combat Wing, based at RAF Lakenheath, UK.
Two missions were flown every day (Eagle 1 and 2) with one morning wave and an afternoon wave, each with up to 60 aircraft involved in the exercise.
Battlefield situational awareness was greatly enhanced by using a flying radar asset like the NATO E-3A AWACS (Konya is a Forward Operating Base for NATO’s AEW&C Force) or the Turkish Air Force Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft operated by the resident 131 Filo. Both could provide real time battlefield overview, relay vectors and target priority.
Several other aircraft from the Turkish Air Force along with two other aircraft, a C-17 and a C-130J from the Qatari Air Force, participated in other kind of air exercises. They conducted different types of missions such as tactical air lift/drop, combat search and rescue, time sensitive training, and others.
The Anatolian Eagle exercise dates back to the late 90s, when it was established as a national air warfare exercise. Following the participation of the Turkish Air Force in Red Flag in 1997, ambitions for the Anatolian Eagle exercise to evolve grew, starting in June 2001 at Konya Air Base involving the Turkish Air Force, United States Air Force and Israeli Air Force. The reason of setting up the exercise was to enhance the combat training of the Turkish pilots and to increase the interoperability with other air forces.
With large exercise areas available over land and sea extending 50,000 square miles in surface area and up to 50,000 feet from the ground, the Turkish Air Force can organize an absolute full-scale exercise similar to Red Flag.
The participants of Anatolian Eagle have access to a training environment within a 300km by 400km area located between Konya and Ankara, which keeps transit time to a minimum. Within this training area are three air-to-ground ranges at Tersakan, Koc and Karapmar, deploying surface-to-air threats from SA-6, SA-8, SA-11 and ZSU 23-4 systems as to provide a realistic environment for the exercise scenarios. The Konya Air Base has all the facilities you would expect of a world class training facility, but perhaps its best feature is its geographic location.
Anatolian Eagle’s simulated wartime environment increases difficulty using the normal building block approach, the complexity of each package growing over the twelve day training period with 'package lead' being rotated through all participating nations and units. This gives the aircrews the best training to prepare them for real world conflict. In other words, a “Red Flag” type of exercise with a Turkish stamp on it!
Report and photos by George Karavantos ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 14 July 2019