Turkey Conducted Anadolu Yıldızı Serach And Rescue Exercise

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AS 532AL Cougar helicopter of Turkish Air Force hoists the rescue swimmer and the simulated victim out of the water

Today the Turkish Navy also conducted a search and rescue exercise, in the international waters and airspace between Lesbos and Chios in the Aegean.

According to AA news agency the F-245 TCG Oruçreis  frigate, one corvette, two patrol boats, two coasts guard vessels and numerous air units have participated in the exercise. On board of TCG Oruçreis were 40 military attaches from 22 nations as observers.

The land part of the exercise will be conducted on 19 April 2013.

Here is the Google translation of a news article about the exercise.

Land Forces Command and Control Division Director Colonel Ramadan, Erdogan administration within the framework of the host’s House briefing Press Information Center, which serve as search and rescue activities in a race against time, must have good organization and staff, he said.

Erdogan, “the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the Presidency of the Turkish General Staff in search and rescue co-ordination center, which is formed on the search and rescue search and rescue search and rescue co-ordination centers and rescue all kinds of associations working in the organization to respond to the request has a 24-hour,” he said.

Turkey Since 2006, satellite-assisted search and rescue system

(COSPAS-SARSAT) Pointing out that the country of the service provider Erdogan, the Turkish Armed Forces search and rescue elements, Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ministry Main Search and Rescue Coordination Centre (AECC) to do the exercise with the participation of the Turkish search and rescue region, including the Aegean Sea on Thursday, April 18 international waters and airspace between Lesbos and Chios Islands, to be held on April 19 in the Smoky Mountain town of Izmir Menemen said.

And here is a link to a good video of the exercise: http://www.aa.com.tr/tr/mod/video-galerisi/955864/anadolu-yildizi-tatbikati

What Really Happened To Flight Şafak 46?

Exactly one month ago, on 22 June 2012 one RF-4ETM Phantom II airplane call sign Şafak 46 from 173. Squadron of Turkish Air force took off from Erhaç airbase.

The mission of the plane was to help to the calibration of a radar in Hatay Turkey. All radar and radio contact with the plane was lost on 11:57 am local time.

The first official announcement made by Turkish General Staff on the same day, was that the contact with the plane was lost and a search and rescue operation has been initiated.

On the same day late at night it was announced by the prime minister that the lost plane was shot down by Syria. This claim was later accepted by Syrian news agency SANA. Syria claimed that they have shot down the Turkish plane inside the Syrian airspace with anti aircraft gun fire believing it was an Israeli plane. Turkey responded to these claims that the plane was not in a covert operation and its communication and IFF systems were open and operational and the plane was shot down by Syria outside of the Syrian air space. The radar tracks of the plane published both by Turkey and Syria showed that Şafak 46 did flew through the Syrian airspace 5 minutes long. The plane left the Syrian airspace ten minutes before it was shot down and never entered again. Turkey insisted that this was an navigation error and the flight control in Turkey warned the plane about this error.

Between 22 and 26 June 2012, Turkish Navy and Coast Guard units searched an area of 70 x 23 nautical miles and found some floating debris. The naval research ship TCG Çeşme located some underwater targets suitable to be the wreckage of the plane with its side scan sonar. but it was the US owned research vessel R/V Nautilus and its ROV’s that found the wreckage on 5th July 2012, 8,6 nautical miles from Syrian coast and recovered the bodies of the pilot Captain Gökhan ERTAN and WSO Lieutenant Hasan Hüseyin AKSOY.

R/V Nautilus also provided images from the wreckage with its high definition video camera and/or digital stereo still cameras.

Up to that point the incident was more or less clear event. An unarmed Turkish military reconnaissance plane was shot by Syria either inside the Syrian air space by anti aircraft guns; according to Syrian claims or outside of the Syrian air space by anti aircraft missile (as the range of the Syrian AAA cannot reach targets flying outside the Syrian airspace) according to Turkish claims.

On 11th July 2012 Turkish General Staff made an announcement about this incident and stated and the from the investigations conducted on the pieces of wreckage salvaged from the bottom of the sea and from the items found floating on the surface showed no evidence of any petroleum based fire incendiary or accelerator. Furthermore there was no evidence of any organic and inorganic explosive material residue.

In the same statement it was also announced that there were no evidence of the wreckage of the plane that it was shot down by AAA fire.

That statement created more questions and served as source for more conspiracy theories.

Two days later Turkish General Staff made to make another announcement stating that the evidence shows that the plane was not shot down by anti-aircraft guns and the exact way to determine how the plane was shot down by Syria will be possible after salvaging remaining larger parts of the plane from the sea floor.

Now this is a problem. While she was on the scene the equipment of R/V Nautilus provided very important information and it was possible to bring smaller pieces from the plane to surface. But R/V Nautilus is now in the Black Sea and is conducting scientific research as she was scheduled to do. My understanding is that there was a behind the door agreement between USA and Turkey to use the ship for a short period of time to recover the bodies of the pilots and to locate the plane. Now with R/V Nautilus away, Turkey had to create means to recover the plane. This is why the US-based Phoenix Marine, Inc., an underwater services company was awarded with an undisclosed contract to salvage the remains of the RF-4ETM.

Until the Phoenix Marine Inc. completes its work we have to speculate what really happened to Şafak 46, although I am pretty sure that because Eastern Med is a hot place right now and USA, Russia, UK, Israel, and Cyprus and many other states are focused to this region must have been witness the shooting of the Turkish plane. Will they come forward with their information is another question.

 

For further analysis about the shooting of Şafak 46 read this excellent article.

The Wreck Of The Shot Down Turkish Plane Sighted And The Bodies Of The Pilots Recovered

Today Turkish general Staff published photos from the search and rescue salvage operations Turkish Navy is conducting off Syrian coast.

As reported earlier,  the research vessel, E/V Nautilus was able to send her ROVs and broadcast live images from the wreck of the Turkish reconnaissance airplane RF-4ETM. This broadcast also confirmed what we have been  fearining: The two pilots have died and their bodes were recovered from the bosom of the sea.

This is a short summary of the all naval operations explained by Turkish General Staff:

  • Between 22 and 26 June 2012, 1 frigate, 1 fact attack craft, 1 patrol boat, 2 Coast Guard vessels, 1 plane and four helicopters searched a  70×23 miles area. During this time about 30 floating items belonging to the plane have been found.
  • Between 26 June and 2 July 2012 the survey ship of Turkish Navy A-599 TCG Çeşme searched for the wreckage of the airplane with her side scan sonar at an average depth of 1230 meters. during this operation TCG Çeşme identified 8 large pieces.
  • Between 3 and 4 July, the research vessels E/V Nautilus broadcasted images for the 8 large pieces identified by TCG Çeşme before and found the bodies of the crew.
  • TCG İnebolu an ocean capable tug with a capacity from salvaging from 3000 meters depth recovered the bodies of the pilots and started to collect pieces from the wreckage of the aircraft.
  • TCG İnebolu and E/V Nautilus are continuing with the salvaging.

Here some photos published by Turkish General Staff:

For more photos and for the location information of the wreck click here.

E/V Nautilus Starts To Search For The Shot Down Turkish Plane

The last recorded position of E/V Nautilus and the location where the Turkish fighter plane crashed.

This was rumored repeatedly last week but now it is official. E/V Nautilus is helping Turkish Navy to locate and inspect the wreckage of RF-4ETM, shoot down by Syria.

The ship was in Istanbul for the preparations of her 2012 expedition to explore the Black Sea, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of Turkey and Cyprus.

She has departure from Istanbul on 29th June 2012 . Currently she is about to arrive at the crash location and start her mission. What makes this62 meters long  research vessel special and unique is the state-of-the-art exploration and telepresence technology has has on board.  The primary remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) on board, named Hercules and Argus, are used to view the seafloor with high definition video, take environmental measurements and collect geological and biological samples. The two secondary exploration tools, the towfish named Diana and Echo, are used to utilize side-scan and subbottom sonar technology to explore the seafloor and seek out compelling targets for closer investigation and study.  Once her side-scan sonars have precisely located the wreck of the plane the ROV will allow us to see the plane and help us to understand how it was hoot down and most importantly if the pilots are still in the wreckage or not.

According to news there will be 4 Turkish naval officers on board during the mission and six warships plus three helicopters will support and protect the E/V Nautilus.

As the wreckage is inside the Syrian territorial waters and as the most of the E/V Nautilus‘ crew most notably Dr. Robert Ballard is from USA, I guess that some kind of a deal must have been struck between Turkey, Syria and USA for this mission.

Here is a video showing E/V Nautilus off the coast of Bodrum on Sunday morning, picking up some crew members transferred by a Turkish Coast Guard vessel. The frigate TCG Gelibolu and the fact attack craft  TCG Karayel can also be seen.

How M/F Ankara Was Protected During Her Stay In Libya

 

Official Turkish General Staff Graphic

Turkish General Staff  made a detailed announcement about protection provided by Turkish Armed Forces to the Ferry M/F Ankara during her humanitarian trip to Libya.

 

On sea MEKO 200 class frigate F-243 TCG Yıldırım escorted the ferry M/F Ankara. TCG Yıldırım is one of the four frigates Turkey has assigned to NATO’s Operation Unified Protector.

For the period that  M/F Ankara was docked in Misurata, air cover was provided by 12 F-16 fighter planes from bases Bandırma and Dalaman. These planes flew a distance of 1330 km (730 NM) in round-trip. 4 KC-135R tanker planes supported the operation by providing fuel for the fighter planes.

There was no immediate air cover when M/F Akara was evacuating wounded  Libyans in Benghazi as there is no on going fighting around this city. But 2 F-16 fighter planes were on 15 min. alert in Dalaman .

For more photos and for the full text of the announcement click here.

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