Alper ÇALIK / email@example.com
One of the planned exercises of Turkish Armed Forces (TAF), EFES-2022 Combined Joint Live Fire Field Exercise was held between May 9 – June 9 in Western Anatolia, Central Aegean Region, Izmir Bay, and Doğanbey Live-Fire Exercise Area. The exercise saw international participation. The Distinguished Observer Days for the exercise were June 8 and 9 and were open to the press. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan graced the event and observed the exercise on June 9. Many organisations within the Turkish defence and aerospace industry also opened booths in the exhibition area, established and coordinated by the Defence Industry Agency (SSB) and presented their capabilities to Turkish and foreign attendants. Many platforms and weapon systems developed in Türkiye made their debut on this exercise as well.
Turkish General Staff, Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC), Turkish Naval Forces Command (TNFC), Turkish Air Force Command (TurAF), General Command of Gendarmerie (GCG), Turkish Special Forces Command (TSFC), Turkish Coast Guard Command (TCGC), and 16 other Turkish public organisations participated in the exercise.
Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Czechia, Ethiopia, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iraq, Italy, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kosovo, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Libya, North Macedonia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nigeria, Pakistan, State of Qatar, Rwanda, Slovakia, Somalia, United Kingdom, the USA, and Uzbekistan participated in the exercise with units and elements as well. Around 11,000 personnel participated in the exercise, with over 1,100 of them being from foreign countries.
Exercise Monitored by Top Level Officials
The live-fire phase of the exercise was also observed by the top-level officials from both Türkiye and foreign countries. Many Turkish public officials including President Erdoğan, Fuat Oktay, Vice President of Türkiye, Hulusi Akar, Minister of National Defence, and command staff of TAF attended the exercise. General Staff and Minister of Defence level guests from allied and friendly countries also visited the exercise, along with many military attachés serving in Türkiye.
New Products Took the Stage
EFES exercise saw many national defence products being used for the first time, with some of them being:
- KNT-76 Sniper Rifle
- COBRA II, KİRPİ II and VURAN Tactical Wheeled Armoured Vehicles
- Proton Elic Tunnel Detection Device
- PARS 4×4 Tactical Wheeled Armoured Vehicle equipped with OMTAS Missile
- KAPLAN STA Armoured Fighting Vehicle equipped with KORNET Missile
- Self-Propelled CİRİT Weapon System
- KİRPİ II MRAP
- BAYRAKTAR AKINCI UCAV
- 35 mm Modernised Towed Cannon
- KARGU Portable Rotary Wing Striker UAV System
- Wing Assisted Guidance Kit
- ROV and GAVIA Lightweight Submarine Autonomous Vessels
- Brigade Command Station with Ballistic Protection
- Dry Cargo Container
- Modular Earth Covered Depot
- Field Accommodation Units
Previous Experience Utilised in Exercise
This year’s exercise saw many innovations, with some important ones being:
- Utilisation of the experience gained from current campaigns and operations such as Euphrates Shield, Olive Branch, Peace Spring, Spring Shield, Claw, Claw-Eagle, Claw-Lightning, Claw-Thunderbolt, and Claw-Eagle at the battlefield
- Night illumination mission with 106 mm mortars
- Air deployment of a 105mm howitzer using a S-70 helicopter
- Capture of a vessel aiding OPFOR
- Detection of an OPFOR submarine with a helicopter dipping sonar, launch of a practice torpedo from a naval patrol aircraft, and surfacing of said OPFOR submarine
- Detection and neutralisation of sea mines with an autonomous submarine vessel
- Inclusion of a JAK team of GCG in a sea search and rescue and medevac mission
Multinational Task Force
The exercise was executed within a generic scenario as previous years. According to the scenario, a fictitious country named Torrike invades a fictitious island country named Arnland. United Nations Security Council then decides the invaded areas should be liberated. With this mandate, two combined joint forces are created, North Combined Joint Force and East Combined Joint Force and then the operation starts.
Exercise Overcomes the Darkness of the Night
The first phase of the live fire exercise was a night operation. The operation started at evening and continued into the late night, with special forces units infiltrating the operation area both from sea and air, then neutralising their targets. In the pre-invasion infiltration, SAT teams reached operation area from the sea using boats, and TSFC teams paradropped to the area using CN-235 CASA aircraft. The teams then neutralised two OPFOR air and coastal surveillance radars with explosives. The sniper elements of these teams neutralised point targets.
In the following moments, TSFC teams made contact with OPFOR units. As the skirmish turned into an intense firefight, T129 ATAK helicopters were sent to the area to support the units under fire. The attack helicopters arrived at the area in a formation flight and opened fire and neutralized the designated targets using unguided rocket, L-UMTAS missiles, and 20 mm autocannons.
In the meantime, two flights took off for an air assault operation. In these flights, CH-47 Heavy Utility, AS532 and S-70 Utility Helicopters were used. T129 ATAK helicopters escorted those flights.
An amphibious assault was commenced soon after. First, 3 of New Type Landing Craft Tank vessels set sail, carrying the first wave of the assault. As the vessels closed in, they opened fire with their remote-controlled 25 mm cannons against detected OPFOR targets. After the targets were neutralised, the landing craft beached and landed the troops ashore. The first wave of the landing included armoured combat engineer vehicles along with amphibious infantry.
All of these actions were supported by various fire support units, both from the air and land. The fire support units belonging to TLFC and TurAF pounded the OPFOR targets to oblivion with precise fire. 105mm M101A1, 155mm M114A1 and M114A2, 203mm M110A2 howitzers and 106mm along with 81mm mortars were used from land while Mk-84 bombs with precise guidance kits were launched from F-16 fighters, neutralising determined point targets.
In the final part of this phase of the exercise, the units in the mainland were subject to air strikes from OPFOR as they embarked on amphibious ships and landing craft. Friendly units performed air defence missions, using KORKUT air defence systems and 35 mm Modernised Towed Cannons. Illuminating rounds fired from 106mm mortars performed as enemy targets for this phase. Even though the night and low light conditions were present for this phase of the operation, the targets were still hit precisely.
Exercise Continued with the Second Wave Amphibious Assault
The second day of the live fire exercise started with a shore bombardment mission as the sun rose, continuing the operation that was commenced last night. Just before the second wave of the amphibious assault, TCG BÜYÜKADA and TCG HEYBELİADA, two ships constructed as a part of MİLGEM project, opened fire on the detected land targets with their 76 mm bow cannons. The ranging shots gave way to firing for effect, hitting the bullseye.
A few minutes after, 3 of SH-70B helicopters under TNFC dipped their sonars to the sea, detecting an OPFOR submarine. After detection, a P-72 Naval patrol Aircraft dropped a practice torpedo, forcing the submarine surface.
The exercise continued with the amphibious assault. The second wave units landed ashore, with M48A5T2 tanks among them.
Soon after 3rd and 4th wave air assault operations followed. During these operations, CH-47, AS532 and S-70 helicopters carried 105mm howitzers and logistic support containers.
The exercise also saw BAYRAKTAR AKINCI UCAV being utilised by TLFC. Two MAM-L mini smart munitions were launched from AKINCI, hitting the target successfully.
The units continued to be supported by air and artillery units as they advanced, commencing mineclearing operations. In this phase of the exercise, a search and rescue operation was also launched according to the scenario. Then, a different observation point was chosen to observe the artillery and mortar fire. The last segment of the exercise was the 5th air assault operation, including the CH-53 helicopters of United States Marine Corps. After this, the live-fire phase of the exercise concluded.
Sector Products Prove the Development of Turkish Defence Industry
After the live fire phase, President Erdoğan and Minister Akar held speeches addressing the distinguished guests.
President Erdoğan shared that the weapons, platforms and systems in the defence industry exhibition as a part of the exercise proved the development of Turkish defence industry and added: “We are a country that is more than pleased to share our achievements and capabilities in our defence industry with our allies and friendly countries. As the world continues to restructure politically, economically, militarily, and socially, these kinds of cooperation opportunities continue to gain more value. Türkiye continues to successfully face the world’s most critical challenges, such as the fight against terrorism and irregular migration.
In addition, we spare no effort in achieving peace in a great region ranging from the Caucasus Mountains to Africa, from Black Sea to Mediterranean. We are the number one country for humanitarian aid when it’s taken as a percentage of GDP. Our Turkish Armed Forces play a special role in our mission. Our heroic army makes us proud with its successes, in border security, overseas operations, counterterrorism operations, and joint missions with NATO and international efforts as a part of bilateral agreements.”
Field Effectiveness of Indigenous Systems are Observed
Minister Akar has stated the cooperation between TAF and armed forces of 37 different allied and friendly countries, mission effectiveness and effectiveness in personnel using high technology weapon systems was satisfactorily observed and added: “I celebrate our allies and friends that contributed significantly to the success of the exercise and thank them for being a part of the exercise. In addition, thanks to this exercise, we were able to see the field effectiveness of our weapon systems and munitions produced by our national defence industry once again.”
Defence Industry Made a Strong Appearance
EFES-2022 Defence Industry Exhibition was held under the coordination of Defence Industry Agency at the exercise area. Prof. Dr. İsmail Demir, President of Defence Industry Agency answered the questions from the press just before the exercise.
Prof. Dr. Demir highlighted the importance of the exercise for the sector and shared the following: “Of course we present our products in fairs and various events. Our defence companies took the opportunity to showcase their capabilities during the exercise. The products are displayed statically here, while their performance is presented in the exercise. Turkish defence industry and our achievements will be shown here, along with what kind of support they provide to soldiers, right in the field. The performance of our products will be presented when coordinated in an operation, rather than just in catalogues and marketing materials.”
The list of the companies that opened booths in the exercise area were: 3E, ALTINAY SAVUNMA, ASELSAN, ASFAT, Asisguard, ASPİLSAN Enerji, ATA Arms, Baykar, BİTES, BMC, CTECH, DASAL, FNSS, Güvenli Yaşam, HAVELSAN, HTR, İŞBİR, Kalekalıp, Lentatek, Mensan, Meteksan Defence, MKE, Nurol Makina, ONUR, Otokar, Öztek, Repkon, Roketsan, Samsun Yurt Savunma, Sarsılmaz, SDT, Simsoft, STM, TDU Savunma, TİSAŞ, Turkish Aerospace, TÜBİTAK SAGE, ULAK Communications, UNIDEF, Volt Technology, YAVUZ, and YDS. The exhibit was visited by distinguished guests and units from participating countries.