AE2021 Azerbaijan MiG 29 Shaun Psaila 640Anatolian Eagle 2021

Konya air base (Turkey) is known for hosting the yearly exercise(s) Anatolian Eagle (AE). This year's exercise, AE 2021, was held from 21 June until 2 July 2021.

Next to the participation of the Turkish armed forces, the exercise attracts very interesting participants from other NATO armed forces and Middle East and Asian countries. AE 2021 for instance saw the participation of the Azərbaycan Hərbi Hava Qüvvələri (Azerbaijan Air Force), the Qatar Emiri Air Force (EQAF) and the Pakistan Fiza'ya (PAF, Pakistan Air Force).

In 2000, Konya air base and surrounding training area was designated as the permanent site for Anatolian Eagle Training Complex (AETC). Located in central Anatolia, the exercise was named Andolu Kartarli (Anatolian Eagle). The choice for Konya was clear; a large air force base with good infrastructure and plenty of space to practice in the immediate vicinity. To the north of the base are salt lakes that allow optimal use of the airspace up to an altitude of 50,000 feet. In this training area with an airspace of 300 by 400 km, there are various fake Surface-to-air missile (SAM) sites, but also the necessary equipment with Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation (ACMI).

In June 2001, Anatolian Eagle 01 (AE 2001) was launched involving Turkish, US and Israeli air forces. From AE 2004-3, Pakistan joined the exercise for the first time and in 2019 they joined the exercise for the firt time using the PAC JF-17 Thunder. Azerbaijan joined in 2019 as an observer nation and Qatar joined earlier in 2014 AE 2014-2) and 2019.

The main goal of Anatolian Eagle is to improve the capabilities of national and foreign elements, test new tactics and techniques, develop joint and combined operational procedures, and maximize mission effectiveness by increasing mutual support between the participating forces. The training scenarios take place over a two-week period. In the first week, two daily missions are flown, called Eagle 1 and Eagle 2.

Eagle 1 starts at 07:30 hrs (LT) and lasts until about 09:00 hrs, Eagle 2 lasts from 14:30 hrs until 17:30 hrs. Three main elements are involved; Red Force, Blue Force and White HQ. The latter is tasked with the preparation of the training scenarios and submits the Air Tasking Orders to the teams. The main missions are:

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

Participating air forces and units in Anatolian Eagle 2021 were:

AE2021 patch 320Azerbaijan Air Force
2x MiG-29 from MIQ-29 Eskadrilya at Nasosnaya AB: 06 Blue and 07 Blue
2x Su-25 from SU-25 Eskadrilya at Kürdəmir AB: 09 Blue and 23 Blue
Qatar Emiri Air Force
4x Rafale DQ/EQ from Al Adiyat Squadron at Tamim: QA202, QA210, QA222 and QA223
Pakistan Air Force
5x JF-17 Thunder from 16(MR)sq Black Thunder at Minhas/Kamra Air Base: 17-244, 18-252, 18-255, 18-256 and 19-257
1x E-3A from NAEW&CF at Geilenkirchen
Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (TurAF, Turkish Air Force)
5x F-16C/D from 113 Filo Ceylan (Gazelle) at Eskisehir
6x F-16C/D from 151 Filo Savasan Kurt (Fighting Wolf) at Merzifon
6x F-16C/D from 152 Fiko at Akinci (Raiders) Incirlik
8x F-16C/D from 181 Filo Pars (Leopard) at Diyarbakir
3x F-16C/D from 192 Filo Kaplan (Tiger) at Balikesir
1x KC-135R from 101 Filo Asena at Incirlik
1x E-7T from 131 Filo Ejder (Dragon) at Konya
1x Anka-S UAS from 302 Filo Simsek (Light) at Incirlik
TurAF agressor role
10x F-16C/D from 132 Filo Hançer (Dagger) at Konya
plus some 151 Filo F-16C/D

Photos by Shaun Psaila and MAR (

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