Home COVER FILE International Anatolian Phoenix-2021 Exercise Highlights the Joint Operational Capabilities of Turkey and its Allies

International Anatolian Phoenix-2021 Exercise Highlights the Joint Operational Capabilities of Turkey and its Allies

by Aybars Meric

Onur KURÇ / onur@removebeforephotos.com

Tayfun YAŞAR / tayfun@removebeforephotos.com

The International Anatolian Phoenix-2021 Exercise was executed at the 3rd Main Jet Base Command in Konya between 24 May and 4 June. In addition to Turkey, units from Azerbaijan, Qatar, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) and Slovakia participated in the exercise hosted by the 135th Search and Rescue Squadron (call name Ateş). The exercise demonstrated the capabilities of the participating countries to operate jointly. The surprise of the exercise was that the Air Ground Integration Aircraft (HYEU in Turkish abbreviation) model of HÜRKUŞ was exhibited for the first time and participated in the exercise.

Turkish, Azerbaijani and Qatari senior military officials, who came to watch the exercise, were given information about the aircraft manufactured by Turkish Aerospae by the Air Forces Command and company officials.

The exercise was executed in accordance with 4 main objectives:

  • To experience and improve the command and control process as part of the Search and Rescue (SAR) Operation. Within this frame, to test the interoperability capabilities of SAR Task Force elements (combat jet aircraft, command and control aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, and helicopters) in the combat environment.
  • To improve Survival and Escape-Survive procedures and to increase the training level of flight personnel.
  • Within the scope of Joint and Combined Operations; to plan and execute SAR, Close Air Support, Dynamic Targeting, and Time Sensitive Targeting missions.
  • To improve the level of interoperability with other countries, and to identify areas of cooperation.

Within the scope of the exercise; Convoy Protection, Close Air Support, Time Sensitive Targeting, Dynamic Targeting, Casualty Evacuation, Airdropping, Over Water SAR, Insertion/Extraction, Parachute Jumping, and SAR in the Enemy Area were executed.

During the exercise, combat search and rescue missions were also executed. AS532 Cougar combat search-and-rescue helicopter of the Air Forces Command demonstrated its improved capabilities during this mission with the integration of the M134 Minigun by Unidef.

The elements involved in the exercise were listed as follows:

  • Turkish Air Force: Six F-16s, one E-7T Airborne Early Warning, one ANKA-S, one CN235, two AS532 Cougars, three SAR Teams, one Forward Air Controller Team
  • Turkish Land Forces Command: One AS532 Cougar, two T129s, one SAR Team
  • Turkish Naval Forces: One SAT Team
  • Turkish General Command of the Gendarmerie: One S70, one SAR Team
  • Special Forces Command of Turkish General Staff: One S70, one Special Forces Team
  • Azerbaijan: One Mi-17, three SAR Teams
  • Qatar: Two AW139, one C-130, one C-17
  • TRNC: One AS532, one SAR Team

Slovakia participated in the first 5 days of the exercise. During the exercise, a total of 120 sorties were carried out. The total number of personnel involved in the exercise was 437.

HÜRKUŞ HYEU Took the Stage

Just before the tail section of HÜRKUŞ HYEU demonstrated, there was the sticker “TUSAŞ-Roketsan HÜRKUŞ 2020 Shooting Campaign”.

Press and distinguished observer’s day of the exercise was held on 31 May. The exercise was followed by 54 press members, 38 of them working for local media and 16 for international media.

The show of SOLOTÜRK was performed with a combat painted F-16 aircraft.

The press and distinguished observer’s day started with a briefing on the exercise. Following the briefing, Turkish, Azerbaijani and Qatari senior military officials were given information about the aircraft manufactured by Turkish Aerospace by the Air Forces Command and company personnel. Afterwards, members of the press were taken to the apron area called Kartal (Eagle) Park Area to view the aircraft that will take part in the exercise.

During the exercise, Turkish Stars also performed a show.

HYEU model of HÜRKUŞ welcomed the members of the press in the apron area. Being developed according to the requirements of the 135th Squadron, HÜRKUŞ HYEU is planned to be used in the training activities of the Turkish Air Force. Forward Air Controller, Forward Combat Controller, and Joint Fire Support Team trainings will be provided.

HÜRKUŞ HYEU was exhibited in the exercise with two Roketsan MAM-L munitions per pylon on both wings. Under the fuselage, there was an electro-optical sensor. The aircraft was painted in dark and light grey tones similar to the F-4 and F-16 aircraft in the Turkish Air Force inventory. Furthermore, a shark’s mouth sticker, which is known from F-4E Phantom aircraft, was applied to the nose of the aircraft.

Turkish Aerospace HÜRKUŞ Product Director Nezaket Güneri Orbay and Experimental Test Pilot Barbaros Demirbaş answered the questions of the press, and gave information about the aircraft. The aircraft is based on the B model of HÜRKUŞ; with various modifications and strengthening works carried out on the cockpit, fuselage and wings. The studies concerning the development of HÜRKUŞ HYEU in accordance with the requirements of the Turkish Air Force are still continuing. In the first phase, two aircraft will be delivered to the 135th Squadron. Afterwards, a schedule will be determined according to the requested configurations and deliveries will continue. The aircraft will be used in the training of HYEU pilots. A total of six aircraft are planned to be delivered. Since it is a training platform, the aircraft will be equipped with the capability to drop BDU-33 training bombs, as well as MAM-Ls. The aircraft will also have laser targeting capability. The aircraft has a total of seven weapon stations, as three on the wings and one under the fuselage.

Azerbaijan participated in the exercise with one Mi-17 helicopter.

In the press release published by Turkish Aerospace, it was emphasized that the integration of the Electro-Optical / Infrared (EO/IR) camera, laser-guided and unguided training munitions as well as the auto-pilot could be realized gradually to the aircraft.

Following the lunch break, participants moved onto the Turkish Stars Performance Area. Here, demonstration flights were performed by Turkish Stars and SOLOTÜRK for the members of the protocol and the press.

Aircraft and Teams Exhibited Their Skills

S70 helicopter of the Special Forces Command of the Turkish General Staff.

Following the demonstration flights, members of the press were taken to Konya Shooting Range that is approximately 10 km from the base. Although the rainy and windy weather made it difficult for the members of the press to perform their duties, planned scenarios of the exercise were carried out at this phase of the exercise. The determined targets were hit with Mk-82 bombs dropped from F-16 aircraft of the 132nd Hançer (Dagger) Squadron departed from Konya and with shots fired from T129 ATAK helicopters of the Turkish Land Forces Command.

Two AW139 helicopters that served as part of the participation of Qatar in the exercise are seen together.

Meanwhile, according to the scenario, a terrorist group aiming to attack the base was detected. F-16s set fire to ground targets with the marking made by Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) in the region. Meanwhile, the terrorist group attacked a convoy. JTACs detected the location of the attacking terrorists and the terrorists were destroyed by F-16s. A medical evacuation was carried out by helicopter for the injured staff in the convoy. At that time, HÜRKUŞ HYEU acted as escort. According to the scenario, a combat search-and-rescue operation was organized to rescue an F-16 pilot who crashed due to engine failure during the mission. The pilot was rescued by AS532 Cougar helicopters under the protection of T129 ATAK helicopters.

The S70 helicopter of the Turkish General Command of the Gendarmerie was the most colourful participant of the exercise.

The participant units successfully completed the assigned tasks received full marks from the distinguished observers.

AS532 Cougar
International Anatolian Phoenix Exercise
 The purpose of the Anatolian Phoenix Exercises, performed in a realistic operation environment, is listed as follows;
 •    Training the SAR Task Force elements, and
 •    Increasing the level of experience required by the present and future battlefields
 The exercise that was first executed in 2009 and is repeated in two terms in each year. Since 2012, one of these terms is performed nationally and the other internationally. The exercises are hosted by the 3rd Main Jet Base Command in Konya.
 Combat jets, Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and transport aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, and SAR teams participate in the exercises. During the exercises, Joint SAR procedures and related command and control processes are tested in the operational environment. The development of these procedures and processes is also among the activities of the exercise. Within the scope of the Joint and Combined Operations carried out during the exercise; missions such as SAR, Close Air Support, Dynamic Targeting and Time Sensitive Targeting are also executed.

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