Efes 16 Military Exercise

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US Army troops disembark from a Turkish landing craft Ç-147. The soldiers on the left are from Saudi Arabia and the soldiers at the end of the bay are probably Polish.

Since 4th May, the Joint Combined Exercise Efes 16 is conducted in Turkey. The national exercise Efes, is being held as a multinational event for the first time this year, including about 7,000 service members from the U.S. Army and Navy, Azerbaijan, England, Germany, Pakistan, Poland, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.

The purpose of the exercise is to improve joint and combined operations of the command, control and planning to include logistics and interoperability skills.

As the nations participate in joint training exercises, learn each other’s tactics, and strengthen their ability to operate together, the complexity of their operations increase. This week they set a milestone by participating in the first ever multinational Amphibious and Air Assault operations to combine all the participating nations during EFES.

“I hope they are learning as much as we are from them about how to communicate and maneuver in a diverse task organization with a dynamic mission set,” said U.S. Army Capt. Matthew Westcott, the Commander of A Company, 54th Engineer Battalion, 173rd Brigade Combat Team (Airborne).

During both the Amphibious and Air Assault operations, the engineers’ mission was to clear mine and wire obstacles for armor and dismounted infantry elements.

“These operations show the larger NATO force what U.S. engineering capabilities bring to the fight,” said Westcott.

During the amphibious operation the U.S. Soldiers have two elements. The first used bangalore explosives to clear wire obstacles on the beach for the second element that arrived on beach aboard Turkish Armored Personnel Carriers that were delivered ashore by Turkish Navy ships.

“We’re working with nations we have never worked with before, seeing new faces and how they operate,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Alex Cansler, a Platoon Leader with the engineer company.

For the Air Assault the engineers had a similar mission, but different ride to it.

They boarded Turkish Cougar helicopters along with their partners from the German and Polish infantry units. They dismounted the helicopters and breached obstacles for the German infantry to continue toward their objective. After both elements completed their breaching missions they fell back to their second task, fighting as infantrymen to help the battalion close with and destroy the enemy.

“Most the time you just breach the obstacle,” said Pfc. Tyler Adams, a combat engineer with the 54th, who participated rode on one of the Turkish Navy ships and armored personnel carrier during the Amphibious Assault. “Doing stuff like that makes it more fun. It makes other missions easier because you think, ‘If I did something that different then other new things will be easier,'” said Adams

On 30th and 31st of May will be the live firing phase of the exercise. This part is scheduled to be conducted in Doğanbey in İzmir.

Foreign Warship On Bosphorus in 2016 (Part 19)

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Ropucha class landing ship Tsezar Kunikov returned from her Syrian deployment after 10 days. Note the two guards laying down at the bow of the ship.

 

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According to news reports after two years of absence, North Fleet landing ship Georgiy Pobedonesets passed through Turkish Straits to join the other ships in Syrian Express deployments. Photo: Karar

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Alexander Otrakovski making a southbound passage through Istanbul. Photo: Yörük Işık.

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Minsk, making a southbound passage through Istanbul. Photo: via Yörük Işık.

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Natya class mine sweeper Kovrovets returned to her home port. She was deployed in Syria since February 2016. Photo: Yörük Işık.

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Krivak class frigate Pytlivy made a southbound passage through Istanbul with her new pennant number. Note the two guards laying down, one at the bow the other at aft.

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Turkish Coast Guard boat TCSG-93 was unusual close to the Russian frigate during a part of the transit. Pytlivy is joining Ladny, Smetlivy and Serpukhov which are already in the Mediterranean Sea.

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French warship D-615 FS Jean Bart left the Black Sea after spending 6 days.

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Thick smoke coming from Jean Bart‘s funnel indicates her old age. She will be replaced by a FREMM class warship in a 7 years.

The list of the foreign warships passed through Istanbul Strait is here.

New Maritime Patrol Planes For Turkish Navy?

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A contract was signed on 2008 to buy 10 ATR 72-500 ASW from Italy. 8 years later we are still waiting patiently for the planes. All we got in the mean time are two unarmed ATR-72-600 planes for utility missions.

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6 of these C-235 ASW planes are the backbone of Turkish airborne ASWand AsuW missions. When the acquisition project of these planes started in 1998, CASA was still an independent company, the C-295 has just made its maiden flight and its ASW version did not exist even in the dreams of the CASA/EADS/Airbus Military engineers.  P-8A Poseidon was not even on the drawing board.

ANKARA, Turkey — The Turkish Navy is considering the purchase of long-range patrol aircraft to add to its fleet of CN-235 and ATR72s, navy and procurement officials said.
“The requirement comes in line with the government’s foreign policy priorities,” explained one procurement official.
Navy officials say the planned aircraft should be able to fly 1,000 to 1,200 nautical miles away from their main base in Turkey and fly 12 to 15 hours.
“Our current fleet may not respond to our future roles,” said one Navy official. “The new patrol aircraft should ideally have anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare roles.”
Naval industry sources say the Turkish description of the requirement would probably point to the Boeing P-8 Poseidon (formerly the Multimission Maritime Aircraft or MMA). The P-8 Poseidon was developed for the US Navy by Boeing Defense, Space & Security, modified from the 737-800ERX.
The P-8 also conducts shipping interdiction, along with an electronic signals intelligence role which involves carrying torpedoes, depth charges, SLAM-ER missiles, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and other weapons. It is able to drop and monitor sonobuoys. The aircraft is designed to operate in conjunction with the Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton Broad Area Maritime Surveillance unmanned aerial vehicle.
Procurement officials say they hope to issue a request for information for the planned acquisition soon.
“We are hoping to see a competitive contest,” one official said.
But industry sources say the description of the acquisition narrows options.
“There will not be too many bidders, judging from the description of the requirement,” said one source.

The technical requirement describes a plane that is able to fly 1,000 to 1,200 nautical miles away from their main base in Turkey and fly 12 to 15 hours. As far as I know there is only two planes exist that can fill this expectations. Boeing’s P-8A Poseidon and Ilyushin’s Il-38.

Given the political climate between Turkey and Russia I think a snowball in hell has better odds than Mr. Putin selling military airplanes to Turkey. This leaves us with one real contender: P-8A

I have no idea who the unnamed procurement official was, but I am glad that I am not in his/her shoes. It will be very hard to create an illusion of  competitive contest with one contestant.

Australia paid for 8 P-8A planes USD2.88 billion and India paid for 8 P-8I Neptune (Indian designation) planes USD2.1 billion. If this procurement project goes ahead it will be most expensive acquisitions for Turkish Naval Aviation. There are better places where we can wisely spend a couple billion US Dollars such as the air defence ship project TF-2000.

I will be most surprised if this announced interest in P-8A Poseidon planes materializes into a contract very soon. The acquisitions projects for maritime patrol and ASW planes are beleaguered with massive delays.

For further reading:

12 Years After The Contract Thales Finally Delivers Maritime Patrol Aircraft To Turkish Navy

Finaly: The First ATR-72 Maritime Utility Plane Is Delivered

Turkish Navy To Get 8 ATR-72-600 Planes Instead Of 10 As Originaly Agreed

Finally: The First Maritime Surveillance Plane Officially Inaugurated

First flight of CN235 ASW for Meltem programme

From The Archive (15)

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BB-61 USS Iowa in Istanbul on 5 October 1989, just a few months after the deadly turret explosion. A ship from the era when they built real ships and didn’t care about stealth. She was decommissioned in 1990 and turned into a museum.

An IED Kills A Turkish Coast Guard Sailor

The yellow circle shows the approximate location of the incident. Syrian border in 10 nautical miles to south.

The yellow circle shows the approximate location of the incident. Syrian border in 10 nautical miles to south.

A Turkish Coast Guard sailor died and a fisherman wounded when a life raft with two bodies on it exploded. The incident happened off the coast of Samandağ in Hatay province, in the morning of 22nd May 2016.

According to news reports, Ali Doğru, a local fisher, sighted a life raft with 2 dead persons, drifting 3 kilometers off the coast of Samandağ and informed the coast guard. One of the boats stationed in Çevlik, Samandağ was dispatched to investigate the incident. Çevlik is the southernmost Coast Guard base a few nautical miles away from Syrian border.

The explosion happened as the coast guard vessel tried to tow life raft. The sailor Alper Al, died and the fisher Ali Doğru was injured. The divers later brought some pieces of the boat and some body parts from the sea floor.

The details of the incident is not enough to answer all the questions. It is not clear if it was a targeted attack against Turkish Coast Guard or not.

Previously boats rigged with explosives were used in suicide attacks against ships. These attacks such the one against USS Cole or M/T Limburg were intended attacks with a live driver bringing the boat to its determined target. Since the boat was drifting it is difficult to determine the intended target of this attack. Drifting mines were used  to disrupt sea traffic in certain areas during war times, but I have not heard about drifting boats rigged with explosives. If one of the fighting parties in Syria, specially rigged the boat with an IED intending hurting the rescuers, this might be a first.

Foreign Warship On Bosphorus in 2016 (Part 18)

This is a double issue as I was not able to update last week.

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An empty Dvinitsa-50 heading back to the Black Sea. Photo: Yörük Işık.

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Tsezar Kunikov, making a southbound passage through Istanbul. Photo: Serhat Güvenç.

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Ropucha class landing ship Minsk, returns from Mediterranean. Alexander Otrakovski can be seen in the background. Photo: Yörük Işık.

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Alexander Otrakovski returning from her Syrian deployment. Photo: Alper Böler. Turkish frigate F-241 TCG Yıldırım is in the background.

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French warship Jean Bart, making a northbound passage through Istanbul. Photo: Serhat Güvenç

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Second Natya class mine sweeper deployed to the Mediterranean, Valentin Pikul, passes through Istanbul, escorted by Turkish Coast Guard vessels. Photo: Yörük Işık.

The list of the foreign warships passed through Istanbul Strait is here.

From The Archive (14)

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TCG Pirireis in Istanbul during a naval parade. This photo was taken between 1998 and 2003. She was decommissioned in 2004 and serves as a museum today.

19th May 1919, is regarded as the beginning of the Turkish War of Independence. We thank those who gave their lives to free our homeland from occupation.

From The Archive (13)

HMS Illustrious in Istanbul. 16 May 2008

HMS Illustrious in Istanbul on 16 May 2008. Note the near loss of one Merlin HM Mk2 as the brakes malfunctioned. She was the host of Queen Elisabeth’s reception. HMS Illustrious was decommissioned in 2014 and currently is for sale.

Foreign Warship On Bosphorus in 2016 (Part 17)

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Russian buoy tender KIL-158 passing through Istanbul on her Syrian deployment. Photo: Yörük Işık.

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Russian auxiliary cargo ship Dvinitsa-50 passing through Istanbul on her way to Syria. Photo: Yörük Işık.

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Russian Krivak class frigate Ladny passing through Istanbul on her southbound journey.

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An empty Tsezar Kunikov returns from Syria.

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A heavy loaded Saratov makes her southbound passage through Istanbul. Photo: Yörük Işık.

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Alexander Otrakovski returning from a Syrian deployment. Photo: Alper Böler.

The list of the foreign warships passed through Istanbul Strait is here.

From The Archive (12)

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HMCS Gatineau in Istanbul on 29th October 1992. She was Canada’s contribution to NATO’s STANAVFORLANT. She was decommissioned in 1998 and scrapped in 2009.

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