RAF Lossiemouth Tornado Squadron train in Turkey
June 2007 saw 6 Tornado GR4 aircraft and 120 personnel from RAF Lossiemouth’s 14 Squadron deploy to Konya, Turkey, to participate in Exercise ANATOLIAN EAGLE, an international Large Force Exercise simulating a conflict over the Anatolian Plateau. Participants from Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan and the USA joined the RAF aircrew in flying twice-daily missions composed of up to 60 aircraft.
Exercise ANATOLIAN EAGLE aims to provide training for aircrew from different nations operating in large Composite Air Operations scenarios. A dedicated Red Force provides both an airborne fighter threat and a realistic Surface to Air Missile system threat.
The participating crews, known collectively as Blue Force, plan a detailed mission in response to a realistic scenario. The host nation provides experienced staff to set thE scenario and monitor the mission’s progress.
The participants, led by the nominated Mission Commander, must consider operational tactics, weapons effects, deconfliction and varied contingencies including bad weather and aircraft fallout due to unserviceability. Following a day of detailed planning, the sorties are flown with a real-time Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation facility that allows monitoring staff to follow the air war as it develops.
Recording equipment is then used to reconstruct the mission in the debrief, allowing tactical lessons to be identified and suggestion offered as to how to improve performance and results in future missions.
Exercise ANATOLIAN EAGLE marked the RAF’s first large scale involvement. The Blue Force was composed of 14 Squadron’s Tornado GR4 aircraft, USAF F-15Cs from RAF Lakenheath, F-16s from both the Pakistan Air Force and the Royal Jordanian Air Force and still more F-16s from the Turkish Air Force. Turkish airlift and tanker aircraft and NATO E3 Sentries augmented these tactical assets.
Each nation took turns to provide the Mission Commander for the sorties, allowing a large number of aircrew to experience the challenge of being responsible for the coordination of such a large number of aircraft. Whether as overall commander or formation lead, element lead or wingman, 14 Squadron’s crews gained a significant amount of training value from flying these complex missions.
The Lossiemouth crews were able to supplement this training with a number of heavy weapon drops in Konya’s weaponry range. The RAF GR4s were the only aircraft to utilise the range during the Exercise and achieved consistently good results from a variety of profiles.
The two and a half week exercise was also notable for the fine hosting provided by the Turkish Air Force. At the end of the first full week of flying Konya hosted an International Party for all participants. Each nation set up food and drink stands, offering their national dishes to all, "Lossiemouth’s mince and tatties held its own next to more exotic offerings from the Jordanians and Pakistanis".
The evening also included folk music, presentations put together by the Turks and some energetic demonstrations of traditional dancing. During the weekends, many of the RAF personnel ventured away from Konya to either the Mediterranean coast or further inland to explore the Anatolia region. Highlights included the impressive scenery and history of Cappadocia, which boasted houses and churches carved into the rock of surrounding hills and vast underground cities that could house many thousands of people.
The Exercise concluded with 14 Squadron having flown 61 of a possible 64 sorties as a result of the outstanding efforts of the Squadron’s engineering and support personnel. The recovery to Lossiemouth was smooth and the Squadron arrived back in the UK on time.
"Exercise ANATOLIAN EAGLE represented an excellent training opportunity for RAF Lossiemouth personnel. The unfamiliar location and mix of participants meant that the Exercise was far from ‘run of the mill’ while the infrastructure and exercise area were of sufficient quality to allow the aircrew to focus on the tactical aspects of the training. Personnel from RAF Lossiemouth are required to fly in support of Operations in Iraq and therefore exercises such as ANATOLIAN EAGLE give them a chance to train in a hostile environment using the broad range of precision capabilities unique to the Tornado GR4."
Editor: Flt Lt Metcalfe
Photographer: SAC Matt Kirwan