top of page

Ex Anatolian Eagle 2022

Wednesday 29th June 2022 was a late morning departure of 1125 aboard a Turkish Airline’s Boeing 777. A first for me, the 777 offered the most comfortable experience I have had to date which on a six and a half hour flight to Istanbul, you kind of need it.

Turkish Airlines 777

This trip was under the experienced direction of the Centre of Aviation Photography and their guides Alec & Kelvin. On arrival at Istanbul we disembarked somewhat swiftly and pretty much legged it to the other end of the terminal building to catch our connecting flight to Konya. Having said that when we got to the departure gate our flight had been delayed by around 45 minutes, so that was great!


We eventually arrived at Konya 2000 local, the night air was still as we made our way to our accommodation at the Novotel. Full AC was provided which believe me was going to be required over the next day or so! We decided collectively it would be a sensible idea to stock up on fluids and snacks for the day of shooting ahead so we took a short walk over the road to a local store. Armed with our Turkish Lira and not much else, we about managed to sort ourselves out in a roundabout way, probably to the amusement of the locals.  


Thursday 30th June 2022 a bright and early start as we were required to be at the main security gate by 0800 to get through security and be given our passes to be on station. Once behind the wire we were escorted to the main ramp where the majority of the fighters were lined up. From F16s to SU25s, this was going to be a day of action for us.

Ex Anatolian Eagle Konya F16

Konya airport is predominantly a military base with a civilian terminal in the north east, with this in mind it has two operational runways. For the morning’s ops 01L would be in use for take-off. The 1st wave of departures started at 0930 from our East Zone with F16’s from the 191 Filo based at Balıkesir airport, also known as the ‘Cobras’ they are a front line unit operating the Block 50 variant. They were joined by members of 161 Filo based at Bandırma airbase operating their F16 C/D Block 40/50, who are specialists in LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation & Targeting Infrared for Night). Appropriately they sport a ‘Bat’ for their Squadron markings. Also joining the fight were 172 Filo, 113 Filo and 181 Filo.

Ex Anatolian Eagle 191 Filo Konya F16

Ex Anatolian Eagle 161 Filo Konya F16

That’s the home teams, visiting for Ex Anatolian Eagle 2022 were representatives from 3 Squadron from RAF Coningsby with their Typhoons, SU-25s from Azerbaijan and Jordanian F16s from 1 Squadron stationed at As Shaheed Muwaffaq al Salti.

Ex Anatolian Eagle Royal Jordanian Air Force F16

Ex Anatolian Eagle Su25 Konya

Ex Anatolian Eagle Eurofighter 3 Squadron Royal Air Force RAF Coningsby

Ex Anatolian Eagle Royal Jordanian Air Force F16

With many airframes lining the taxiway most in attendance moved over to the parallel grass line to photograph the departures.

Ex Anatolian Eagle Konya Turkey

On the photography front, shooting the taxi way from the ramp you could quite literally get away with shooting between 10mm to 70mm in focal length but for departures you would be needing at least 300mm, ideally 400-500mm so that’s quite a step up. For departures I did find I was encountering a fair amount of heat haze below around 150ft which actually worked for me rather well in terms of utilising the mountain range to the West.

Ex Anatolian Eagle Konya 161 Filo F16

With the 1st Wave departures gone for a while there was now time to photograph the remaining jets which included the Turkish Tiger painted jet from 192 Filo and their F4 Phantoms from 111th Squadron based at Eskişehir one of the few remaining Phantom Squadron’s left in existence.

Ex Anatolian Eagle Konya F16 192 Filo

Ex Anatolian Eagle Konya F4 Phantom 111th Squadron

To the satisfaction of a large portion of the aviation enthusiasts in attendance there was a plentiful supply of ‘Av Swag’ on offering from patches to prints and T-Shirts. Time for a little bit of rest as the temperature was now reaching around the 27°C mark.

At around 1300 we were back on the busses and taken over to the north side of the Airfield where we were dropped off. Walking past an E-7T we walked around the side of the hanger to be greeted by members of the Turkish air force who lined us up in the shade. Little did we know what we were about to experience and something none of us would soon forget. Let’s put it this way, the Turkish aren’t as tight when it comes to regs unlike our CAA. Rather spectacularly Solo Turk took off and gave one of the most outstanding air displays I’ve ever witnessed, with sheer élan and flare he gave 110% and truly wowed the crowd. It is hard to convey how superb this display was but perhaps I can tell you this way, I struggled to fit the F16 in the frame on a Full frame sensor with a 200mm focal length that’s how close he was.

On his return to earth the pilot, Emre Mert came around to us, threw his thumb up to see if we had enjoyed it. Which if memory serves right we gave him a resounding round of applause. What a lad!

With a low rumble in the distance that was the sign that something else was going up from behind the treeline. And then out of trees appeared the two F4 Phantoms which, at around 100ft, gave a nice little dip of their port wing to give us a superb view of one of the most iconic and loved jets in history.

Ex Anatolian Eagle Konya F4 Phantom 111th Squadron

After a number of passes from the F4s we got back on the busses and were escorted down to runway 01L where we would be stood around 15-20m back from the runway edge as departures were taking place for the afternoon wave. 172 Filo departed, home squadron 132 Filo & 162 Filo also joined in the proceedings.

Ex Anatolian Eagle Konya F16

We were treated to a very sneaky 100ft off the deck approach from an F16 Block 40/50 from 161st Filo which is only fitting considering their squadron badge is a Bat.  

Ex Anatolian Eagle Konya 161 Filo F16

After photographing the recoveries we departed the base and headed for a well-earned beer at the hotel, actually in our case they brought a trolley load if I’m being honest. Taking over 4,000 images on this trip I had a fair bit of work ahead of me but one I was more than willing to do. Ex Anatolian Eagle was an absolute blast and despite the heat it was so energetic, well organised and eventful all with the much needed smell of jet fuel.


What more could an Av Geek as for?    

Ex Anatolian Eagle Konya 191 Filo F16 Sean Strange



bottom of page