Foreign air forces participate in Anatolian Eagle 2021 exercise in Turkey

The air forces of Azerbaijan, Qatar, and Pakistan, participated in Turkey’s Anatolian Eagle 2021 exercise, which is presently taking place at the 3rd Main Jet Base in Konya. 

The Turkish Ministry of Defence announced the commencement of the exercise on June 21. 

The overall goal of the exercise, the ministry tweeted, is “to share knowledge, ability and experience besides enhancing training level for the joint operation.” 

On June 24, the ministry also announced that “Brotherly nation Azerbaijan participated in the Anatolian Eagle Training for the first time.” 

Official video and images released by the ministry show Turkish F-16s training alongside Russian-built Azerbaijani MiG-29 fighter jets and Su-25 attack planes. 

French-built Dassault Rafale multirole fighters of the Qatari Air Force also participated. Qatar only recently began taking delivery of the 4.5-generation French jets. They are the same kind of fighters Turkey’s rival Greece will soon start receiving from France for service in the Hellenic Air Force. 

The Pakistani Air Force also participated with its JF-17 Thunder fighter jets, an aircraft jointly developed by Pakistan and China. 

On Sunday, the defence ministry highlighted NATO’s participation in the exercise, reporting that the “certification assessment” of six F-16s, a KC-135R tanker aircraft, and six Stinger air defence teams “committed to the NATO Response Force (NRF) was also performed for the first time”.

Turkey and NATO have been at increased odds over various issues in recent years, most notably Turkey’s contentious purchase of advanced Russian S-400 air defence missiles. However, during the June NATO Summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sought to ease tensions between Turkey and its fellow alliance members. 

Anatolian Eagle 2021 will conclude in early July. 

Turkey has hosted Anatolian Eagle exercises annually for two decades now.

The exercise is often compared to the United States Air Forces’ Red Flag exercises held several times a year at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, often with the participation of NATO and other allied air forces. 

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