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U.S. Pilots Plant SEAD with Turkish Counterparts

by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

KONYA, Turkey -- The Turkish and U.S. air forces continue to combine their air assets and share tactics in large-force employments during Exercise Anatolian Falcon 2012 here March 5-16.

During LFE exercises, units oftentimes take advantage of the high number of aircraft participating to test mass communication efforts, but the 480th Fighter Squadron pilots from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, are sharing suppression-of-enemy-air-defenses tactics with their Turkish counterparts.

SEAD, the 480th’s specialty, is any action taken to deter enemy surface-to-air missiles or anti-aircraft artillery. The objective is not the destruction of the ground-based threats but to subdue those threats until an air mission is complete.

“Our enemies know some of the capabilities of SEAD teams,” said Capt. David Dubel, 480th FS pilot. “The presence of a SEAD team is sometimes enough in itself to make our enemies flee and allow us to complete whatever mission we’re on.”

For Anatolian Falcon 2012, each air mission has an objective such as the destruction of a plotted target or the defeat of enemy aircraft. Mission planners assign groups of aircraft specific tasks, either offensive counter air, SEAD or ground attack.

Both nations employ the F-16 Fighting Falcon, a multi-faceted fighter aircraft that can combat threats in the air or on the ground. Turkish and U.S. military units train differently, and the various functions of the F-16 can lead pilots to specialize in or understand unique perspectives of the aircraft.

Large-scale exercises allow the NATO allies to share and build upon proven tactics and techniques. For the 480th, sharing their SEAD tactics with the Turkish air force helps both prepare for real combat.

“We’re expecting to be targeted — that’s our job,” Dubel said. “We have a lot of tactics to defend against those threats. There are different tactics as to whether the enemy is just looking at us, have a lock on us or have actually fired a missile.

“The [ground attack] mission is to get 100 percent bombs on target,” he continued, “and SEAD’s mission is to get 100 percent of the [ground attackers] home.”

An exercise-evaluation team is on site to test the SEAD teams’ capabilities to safeguard the ground-attack aircraft. The team members of the Multinational Aircrew Electronic Warfare Tactics Facility, also known as Polygone, use a mobile surface-to-air missile radar system to target and “destroy” the exercise aircraft.

The system forces the pilots to change their plans en-route, said Jack Graham, radar technician. Once the technicians switch the system to the radar or active mode, it emits a signal. The signal alerts the pilots to the radar’s presence. The pilots then must identify the threat, assess the risks, attack the new threat or avoid the area all together.

Graham said he can mask the radar’s location by switching off the detection system. Since the radar is mobile, the team can move to different locations as directed by the mission planners. As Anatolian Falcon 2012 continues, the location or frequency of attack changes to strain the SEAD capabilities of Turkey and the U.S.

“We keep the pilots on their toes so they’re always prepared for the real event,” he said. “As long as we keep them on their toes, we’re doing a good job.”

Dubel said some of the exercise scenarios are relatively calm until an unlocated surface-to-air missile system begins broadcasting a frequency.

“Our job is to sniff out the SAM systems and change the game plan,” Dubel said. “We don’t want to lose any of our players, which in the real world, would be our lives.”

Original article HERE.

Anatolian Falcon 2012 Builds Strength, Sharpens Skills

By Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
52 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

KONYA, Turkey - The Turkish and U.S. air forces continue to successfully integrate their capabilities during Anatolian Falcon 2012 here March 6.

The first four missions of the two-week exercise are through, and the two NATO allies are learning to better communicate with each other and combine their strengths.

"I didn't really know what to expect," said 480th Fighter Squadron pilot Capt. John Mann, who had never flown with the Turkish air force until March 5. "The Turks are really good pilots, and everything synced up once we started flying."

Mission planners from both nations work extensively together to create the training scenarios and objectives, Mann said. The planners choose the complexity of the missions and design the mission objectives in a way to mitigate risks while testing capabilities.

"It's very structured," he said of the airspace rules of engagement. "Everything is well planned and executed as designed. We're definitely not trying to fit a square peg into a round hole."

Well-executed exercises -- like AF12 -- yield far-reaching benefits and further hone combat skills, said U.S. Air Force Maj. Michael Clapper, 480th FS pilot.

"This training forces us to integrate with different aircraft from another country on unfamiliar terrain, which is what you would probably see in combat anyway," Clapper said. "As our strengths continue to grow, so should the scale and complexity of each scenario."

One of the benefits of the U.S. Air Force training with the Turkish air force is the ability to conduct large-force employments, Mann said. A large-force employment involves a higher and more realistic number of participating aircraft per mission.

For example, there are a finite number of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft at the 480th FS's homestation of Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The pilots must use available resources when they conduct training. However, the U.S. pilots can test different skill sets when they combine the aircraft fleet with their Turkish counterparts.

"There are a lot of similarities in our tactics and the general idea of how we operate," Mann said. "But with large-force employments, we have to use different techniques, coordination efforts or other frequencies. You have to have discipline to communicate effectively -- there were 20 jets in the air yesterday."

Clapper said these large-scale missions allow the two countries to practice executing operations together successfully.

The bi-lateral training exercise continues until March 15 with nearly 400 sorties planned.

Original article HERE.

Turkey, U.S. Unite as Anatolian Falcon 2012 Kicks Off

By Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
52 Fighter Wing Public Affairs

KONYA, Turkey - An international weapons-training deployment involving Turkish and U.S. air forces began here March 5 and lasts until March 15.

The 480th Fighter Squadron from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and the Turkish air force's 3rd Main Jet Base combined their efforts during Anatolian Falcon 2012, an exercise designed to strengthen joint operations between the two allied countries.

Turkish air force Col. Ercan Dursun, 3rd Main Jet Base Operations Group commander, expressed his appreciation for the U.S. Air Force's commitment to building relations and military interoperability.

"It's good to see you here," Dursun said during opening remarks at an initial mass briefing March 4. "I hope we will have a fruitful exercise."

He went on to say that one of the main goals of the training is to share lessons learned. By working together, the two air forces can individually evolve into a more flexible force.

"Training with the Turkish air force now ensures smooth communication and tactical effectiveness if we should ever have to go to war together," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Paul Murray, 480th Fighter Squadron commander. "Our air forces pride themselves on adaptability and flexibility, and this exercise showcases those capabilities by allowing us to work with our international partner in fast-paced training scenarios."

Some of the scenarios are set up to have specific targets plotted on a map inside of a mock high-threat zone. The Turkish and U.S. air forces must integrate their aircraft fleet to assess any threats in the area and neutralize the plotted targets. Additional "popup" threats may appear at random times and positions throughout the training. The "popup" threats could be something as small as an enemy ground-forces member aiming a surface-to-air missile launcher at an aircraft.

Other scenarios are air-to-air, meaning two teams of aircraft mock battle in the skies over Turkish air force's Konya Air Base.

"The 480th is excited to get on the road to fly with our NATO ally and strengthen the bonds that have been built during the last 60 years," Murray said of both nations' dedication to ensuring regional peace and stability.

Original article HERE.