U.S., Turkish air forces complete Anatolian Falcon 2012

KONYA, Turkey (AFNS) — Ana­to­lian Fal­con 2012, a bilat­er­al train­ing exer­cise between the Turk­ish and U.S. air forces, end­ed here March 16.

An F-16 Fight­ing Fal­con from the 480th Fight­er Squadron takes off dur­ing Exer­cise Ana­to­lian Fal­con 2012 in Konya, Turkey, March 12, 2012. Dur­ing the bilat­er­al train­ing exer­cise, the 480th FS flew mis­sions with the Turk­ish air force to prac­tice air inter­dic­tion, attack, air supe­ri­or­i­ty, defense sup­pres­sion, air­lift, air refu­el­ing and recon­nais­sance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Ben­jamin Wil­son)
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The exer­cise was designed to strength­en mil­i­tary inter­op­er­abil­i­ty between the two nations and test the air forces’ abil­i­ties to con­duct a vari­ety of air mis­sions to include inter­dic­tion, attack, air supe­ri­or­i­ty, defense sup­pres­sion, air­lift, air refu­el­ing and recon­nais­sance.

“There are a lot of suc­cess­es we had here besides just the gen­er­al exchange of tac­tics,” said Lt. Col. Paul Mur­ray, the 480th Fight­er Squadron com­man­der. “Prob­a­bly the most impor­tant suc­cess we’ve had toward inter­op­er­abil­i­ty is the per­son­al rela­tion­ships we’ve made. Those per­son­al rela­tion­ships are the key to inter­op­er­abil­i­ty.”

Mur­ray said Turkey is one of the strongest allies the U.S. has in the region. U.S. Air Forces in Europe is com­mit­ted to build­ing long­stand­ing rela­tion­ships with nations like Turkey, and the trust of the two NATO part­ners allows for these mass train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. The bonds are fur­ther strength­ened by shar­ing spe­cif­ic mil­i­tary tac­tics.

The 480th FS is the only unit in USAFE whose spe­cial­ty is the sup­pres­sion of ene­my air defens­es. The squadron enhances region­al sta­bil­i­ty by work­ing and train­ing with the Turk­ish air force in that com­bat skill.

“That skillset is an impor­tant one we bring to the joint fight, com­bined fight and coali­tion fight,” Mur­ray said. “That was what we were able to focus on here. But for the most part, every mis­sion that we could be called on to do for the com­bat­ant com­man­der, we got to prac­tice here.”

The pilots’ skills with air-to-air and sup­pres­sion of ene­my air defens­es mis­sions had dete­ri­o­rat­ed from the lapse in prac­tice dur­ing a deploy­ment to Iraq from April to Octo­ber 2011, squadron offi­cials said. The mis­sion of their deploy­ment focused on just one com­bat facet: close air sup­port.

The squadron began rebuild­ing their oth­er skillsets upon return­ing to Ger­many in Octo­ber. How­ev­er, there are only a finite num­ber of air­craft avail­able to train with or against for air-to-air and sup­pres­sion of ene­my air defens­es mis­sions.

Lt. Col. Aaron Piep­ko­rn, the 480th FS direc­tor of oper­a­tions, called the joint train­ing a grad­u­ate-lev­el exer­cise for requal­i­fi­ca­tion and recon­sti­tu­tion.

“We’ve used build­ing blocks to get to where we are now,” Piep­ko­rn said of the train­ing with­in the squadron before join­ing the Turks for AF12. “It was crawl, walk and run to get cur­rent. Now, we’re more pro­fi­cient in those mis­sions as test­ed by the more com­plex sce­nar­ios here.

“This exer­cise was the top of our train­ing,” he con­tin­ued. “We got to employ those skillsets against large forces, and now we’re ful­ly deploy­able should we need to go.”

U.S. Air Force

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