Having been away for two years, 2021 saw the return of the international “Anatolian Eagle” exercise to be visitedy our reporters. The International Anatolian Eagle-2021 Exercise was held between June 21- July 02, 2021, at the 3rd Main Jet Base in Konya with the participation of Turkish Naval Forces and Turkish Air Force, but also a NATO AWACS and Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Qatar Air Forces as active international participants.

Dino van Doorn, Bas Stubert and Hans van der Wilt from Global Military Aviation Photography (GMAP) were invited by the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri) to witness the operations during this major military exercise.


The history of Anatolian Eagle (AE) goes back to 2001, when the first exercise was held. Main goals of this multinational exercise are:

  • Provide realistic operational training domain
  • Enable fighters to execute their tactics
  • Provide a platform to exchange ideas
  • Keep fighters and GCI controllers current
  • Teach how to survive

The ambition is to become the most prestigious and preferred “Tactical Training Centre” in the world. It has become a great opportunity for not only European; but also Middle East countries to train their pilots. In essence, AE is held three times a year: two exercises will only see participants of the Turkish Air Force, while one yearly exercise will also involve international participants.

AE is somewhat similar to the well-known Red Flag exercises that are held in the USA at Nellis AFB; Nevada. Like Red Flag, the participants at AE are divided between Red Forces and Blue Forces. Red Forces are the “training aid” for the Blue fighters; where the visiting units for the Blue forces who will try to execute their game plan; supported by NATO AWACS and/or based E-7T aircraft. The based 135 SQN (or 135 Filo) is providing Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR).

An area as large as 50.000 Sq. mile (altitude range between ground level and 50.00 feet) stretching from the south of Ankara to the Mediterranean south of Alanya is at the disposal of AE to conduct their missions.

Konya Air Base (home to the third Air Wing – Ana Jet Üssü or AJÜ) is located in the center of the exercise-area in Central Anatolia and as such the ideal location to host AE. The base has a major ramp (the so called “Eagle Ramp”) specifically reserved for AE visitors. It houses various dedicated buildings for both Blue and Red forces; providing the participants of AE all the services they require. The Anatolian Eagle Training Center  is located at the 3rd Main Jet Base-Konya and is a high level tactical training center, providing realistic combat training opportunities.

So far, fifteen countries have participated in Anatolian Eagle training, including Belgium, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Qatar, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, U.S.A, Azerbaijan as well as NATO.

The different missions performed by the participating units during Anatolian Eagle are:

  • Combat Air Patrol (CAP), Fighter sweep and Fighter escort
  • Suppression/destruction of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD)
  • Close Air Support (CAS)
  • Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR)
  • Air-to-ground attack
  • High value asset protection
  • Reconnaissance
  • Slow mover protection

Since the establishment in 2001, 43 Anatolian Eagle trainings have been performed and more then 33.000 military personal and more then 2000 planes participated. All these aircraft executed arround 24.000 sorties in the dedicated military training area.


In this year’s international Anatolian Eagle-2021 Exercise, Azerbaijani Air Forces ​will participate with 2x MIG-29s and 2x SU-25s, Qatar Air Force with 4x Rafale jets, Pakistan Air Force with 5x JF-17s, and NATO with 1x E-3A AWACS aircraft. Turkish Air Force will attend the event with 38x F-16C/D of the 113th (5), 132nd (10), 151st (6), 152nd (6), 181st (8), and 191st (3) Squadrons, 1x KC-135R of the 101st Squadron, 1x E-7T of the 131st Squadron, and 1x ANKA-S of the 302nd Squadron. Turkish Naval Forces will also participate with 2x Frigates and 2x Fast Attack Crafts. New to the scene were the SU-25 Frofoot and Mig-29’s operated by the Azerbaijan Air Force but also the Rafale fighter jets from Qatar. As usual, various units of the Turkish Air Force deployed several of their F-16’s to Konya to participate in this mutinational exercise.

The objectives for Anatolian Eagle 2021 are:

  • Increase the operational training level of the participating pilots and air defence personnel in the most realistic operational environment
  • Exercise and develop joined and combined operational procedures
  • Decrease the attritions to a minimum level and to increase mission effectiveness to a maximum level in a real operation environment
  • Execute planned tactics in large force compositions
  • creating a platform to exchange lessons learned and sharing ideas by the different nations
  • Train the participants as they fight and teach them how to survive

The Anatolian Exercise operations center is able visualize all airborne aircraft, threat systems and AWACS sytems  to do some real-time assesments on the missions, but also post-missions assesments are possible with these sytems to get an better understanding and awareness on the situations and scenarios executed in thes AE missions. Combat Manouvering Instrumentation Systems (ACMI) are used to to expose aircrews to a high threat enviroment.

In addition to the surface-to-air assets, fighters of the red force will give the blue participants hard time in a simulated war enviroment. 132 Filo is executing this task with some 10x F-16C/D with some dayglow markings on the tail and wing areas to make them more easy to identify.

Some very nice visitors have been arranged by the Anatolian Eagle organization in the form of two F-4E Phantoms form Eskisehir flying in some mixed formations with the participating aircraft during the press days. Due to our single day visit we missed the mixed formations on the second day, but we are very happy we could witness the arrival of these magnificent aircraft at Konya, but also the excellent photo opportunities provided by the organization of Anatolian Eagle.


Various high-ranking officers and VIPS visited Konya to witness the events of the Anatolian Eagle exercise; as well as a performance of the national demonstration teams “Turkish Stars” who have their homebase at Konya, but also “SoloTurk” with his stunning performance impressed all participating press members and VIPS.

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