Anatolian Eagle 2015-1 held at Konya Air Base from the 8th to the 19th June 2015 marked fifteen years of operations, the exercises conducted have bought a valuable training program to the European theatre, similar to those held in North America at Nellis Air Force base in Nevada, Cold Lake in Alberta Canada and more recently with the American Air Force at Red Flag Alaska. Turkish pilots visited Red Flag as observers as early as 1983, this was followed by a visit as participants in 1997 with their new F-16s. Further joint training has been conducted at İncirlik in Turkey and during another visit to Nellis Air Force Base in early 2000, this led to the directive from Turkish Air Force Command to make preparations for the establishment of the Anatolian Eagle training program.
Turkey has invested in a modern air force, the emphasis is now on the F-16 Fighting Falcon. This highly versatile aircraft provides the backbone of both defensive and offensive capabilities, the F-4 Phantom which for so long undertook those roles is at the twilight of its career, 2015 saw one of the last major Phantom operations with at least twelve aircraft taking part in Anatolian Eagle.
For AE 15-1 the Turkish Air Force element included participants from many of its frontline fighter units:
132 Filo Dagger (Hançer), 141 Filo Kurt (Wolf), 143 Filo Oncel, 151 Filo Bronze (Tunc), 152 Filo Raider (Akinci), 161 Filo Bat (Yarasa), 162 Filo Harpoon (Zipkin), 182 Filo Hawk (Atmaca), 191 Filo Cobra (Kobra), 192 Filo Tiger (Kaplan) all operating various versions of the Lockheed Martin F-16 Fighting Falcon and McDonnell Douglas F-4E 2020 Terminators flown by crews from 111 Filo Panther (Panter) and 171 Filo Pirates (Korsan) also taking part were the Boeing E-7T from 131 Filo Eider (Dragon) resplendent with new tail markings.
Anatolian Eagle 2015-1
The upgraded F-4E-2020 is capable of deploying a number of modern munitions including laser-guided bombs, the AGM-142 Popeye missile, the indigenous TÜBITAK-SAGE SOM and AGM-65 Maverick missiles. Rafael’s Litening III advanced targeting pod has been adopted and increases the venerable Phantoms effectiveness.
2015 marked an inauspicious time for the Phantom, all Turkish reconnaissance aircraft were retired following a fatal accident in which the four crew of a pair of RF-4E Phantoms from 173 Filo Safak (Dawn) lost their lives, in addition 112 Filo Seytan (Devil) retired their F-4E-2020 aircraft the week before Anatolian Eagle.