ANKARA Ñ Turkey has launched a major combat air exercise with Israel
and the United States.
Turkey's Air Force began the Anatolia Eagle on Tuesday with allies from
the Middle East and the West. The exercise contains three stages and will
last several weeks.
Germany, Israel and the United States have joined Turkey for the first
stage of the exercise, which takes place in central Turkey. The headquarters
of Anatolia Eagle is the Konya Air Force base south of Ankara.
This is Israel's first appearance at Anatolia Eagle in more than two
years, Middle East Newsline reported. Israel was not in the exercise in 2002 amid Middle East tensions that
stemmed from the Israeli-Palestinian war.
Turkish officials said the first stage of Anatolia Eagle seeks to
recreate combat air scenarios that include cooperation and coordination
between allied air forces in a regional war. They said Israel, Turkey and
the United States have contributed F-16 multi-role fighters for the
Officials said the exercise was not directed against any of Turkey's
neighbors, who include Iran, Iraq and Syria. They said the military has
imposed tight security around Konya.
As Anatolia Eagle was launched, Turkish Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul
deemed Iran as a threat to Turkey. In an address to parliament's Budget
Committee, Gonul said Iran seeks to acquire nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons and export Islamic violence throughout the region.