Turk Hava Kuvvetleri
Turkish Air Force

The Turkish air force is the youngest of the three branches of the armed services. Founded in 1911, it saw action in the Balkan Wars and World War I, as well as the War of Independence. The first Turkish pilots were trained in France. The air force has a high priority in Turkey's strategic planning because control of the air would be indispensable for successful defense against a ground attack by well-equipped forces. Moreover, reinforcement and supply of Turkish ground forces by Turkey's NATO allies would not be feasible without control of the air.

The Air Force Command was established with the purpose of preventing threats and dangers likely to be received via air against Turkish country and Turkish Nation, and facilitating the way to success of the duties of Land and Naval Forces during a possible war. Turkish Air Force includes four Commands. All combat aircraft are distributed between two tactical air command. Training aircraft are part of Training Air Command. Transport aircraft as part of the Air Force Command headquarters. At the disposal of the country's air force has 34 airport with artificial runway. The air force has up to 60,000 people.

The main duty of the Air Force Command is to deter the enemy from its aggressive intention via its arms and means with superior velocity and brisance, to counteract enemy aircraft rapidly as soon as they enter Turkish airspace in case of an attack against the country, to discourage and dishearten from maintaining the war by destroying the vital military targets of the enemy country and to ensure that war is won within the shortest time possible with least casualties.

Fulfilling the main duties by executing various operations and functions both at peace and in wartime, the Air Force Command entered an intense period of working in order to reach the level of contemporary world aviation and to take its part more efficiently in home defense, after being re-established under the leadership of Atatürk during the Republic Period and, starting from that period, it has reached today’s peak point and power with the help of great efforts and endeavors exerted. In addition, with a view to assure that the achieved improvements and progresses are sustained, or, in other words, to keep pace with this age, large-scale reorganizations were made not only in the existing organization and but also in numerous services, operations and systems in different periods and this status achieved continuity.

The air force role in interdicting an invasion force would be to provide close support of ground troops in tactical defensive actions and to airlift troops and supplies. Upon declaration of a NATO reinforced alert, the Turkish air force would be committed to action as part of NATO's Sixth Allied Tactical Air Force (SIXATAF) headquartered at Izmir. Possessing air re-fuelling capability, the air force is able to conduct overseas missions.

In the early 1980s, it was difficult to assess the combat capability of the Turkish military. Little was written about it, and Turkey seemed reluctant to discuss their strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps this was one of the reaons that most western analysts underestimated their capability. For example, in his testimony to a House Foreign Affairs Committee on 07 May 1980, only one year after the arms embargo was lifted, the Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance and Technology stated that, "the Turkish Armed Forces have not appreciably improved since the arms embargo was lifted." As of 1984 the Turkish Air Force had 15 combat ready fighter squadrons and two reconnaissance squadrons. Although badly in need of new aircraft to replace their aging F-100s and F-104s and a better training program, the TUAF was capable of conducting effective conventional air to ground operations, including close air support and interdiction missions in a low to medium threat environment. Their five squadrons of F-4Es were particularly effectivein this role. They had also developed a basic air defense capability using the US built F-5. This was primarily a day only capability against non-maneuvering targets; however, as of 1984 Turkey was converting one of their F-4 squadrons to the air defense role, which would provide a night and all weather capability. The TUAF was programmed to receive the first of their 160 F-16s in 1986. This aircraft would provide a significant technological advantage over any potential adversary.

By 1994, the air force was staffed by about 56,800 officers and enlisted personnel. It was organized around two basic combat elements operating east and west of the thirty-fifth meridian of longitude. The First Tactical Air Force had its headquarters at Eskisehir Air Base in western Turkey. It defends the Turkish straits and provides air cover in the First Army's area of operations. The Second Tactical Air Force, commanded from its headquarters at Diyarbakir in eastern Turkey, was charged with defending the Third Army and part of the Second Army. Separate air training and logistics commands with their own aircraft squadrons were headquartered at Ankara. The air transport units were assigned directly to specific air force commands. Air force headquarters was located at Ankara.

The air force in 1994 was organized tactically into fourteen fighter-ground attack squadrons, six fighter squadrons, four transport squadrons, two reconnaissance squadrons, one antisubmarine warfare squadron, and three training squadrons. The fighter-ground attack squadrons and three of the four transport squadrons were assigned to NATO. There were eight surface-to-air missile (SAM) squadrons. In 1994 six of the SAM squadrons were equipped with 128 obsolete United States Nike-Hercules missilelaunchers; the remaining two were supplied with twenty-four Rapier SAMs of British manufacture. Many Turkish bases and large cities were within range of Russian, Chinese, and North Korean missile systems possessed by Syria and Iran. Iraq supposedly had relinquished its longer-range missiles but still may have some Scud-Bs from North Korea. Turkish officers acknowledged their limited ability to defend against these threats.

Today the Air Force Command Headquarters located in Ankara consists of Air Force Staff Division, other divisions and departments. The Headquarters of the 1st Air Force Command is located in Eskisehir. The Headquarters of the 2nd Air Force Command is located in Diyarbakir. The headquarters of the Air Training Command is located in Izmir. The Headquarters of the Air Logistics Command is located in Ankara. As of 2012 the Turkish Air Force had 18 combat ready fighter squadrons and two reconnaissance squadrons [113 Filo and 173 Filo]. By 2012, the air force was staffed by about 60,000 officers and enlisted personnel on active duty, and an equal number in the reserves.

The basis of the combat power of the Turkish Air Force is 168 multi-role fighters F-16C and 40 training fighter F-16D. Most of them were produced under license in Turkey. In addition, it remains in service to 40 obsolete fighter Canadair NF-5 Canadian production. Also, the Air Force has more than 180 training aircraft, 7 refueling aircraft KC-135R, two AWACS aircraft Boeing-737 (just ordered 4) and 95 transport aircraft. The main Turkish military transport aircraft is - Tusas CN-235M (48 units). This Spanish transport aircraft CASA CN-235, which was produced under license in Turkey.

Ground air defense presented an outdated medium-range air defense system the US MIM-14 Nike-Hercules (72 PU), PU 48 American medium-range air defense missile system "Hawk-21", and 84 short-range SAM British "Rapier". In the future, the country's air defense system will be significantly strengthened by the signed contract with China for the supply of 12 divisional sets of long-range air defense missile system HQ-9, which in turn created using the technological base of the Soviet / Russian air defense systems S-300. February 21 2015 Turkish Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz said that created with the help of the Chinese missile defense system in Turkey will not be integrated into NATO's missile defense system.

The plans of the Turkish Air Force seriously upgrade its fleet of combat aircraft. In particular, a lot of talk about the contract for the purchase of American fighter aircraft 5th-generation F-35A. They included the acquisition of 100 fighters. The first two aircraft should go into service in the Turkish Air Force, 2018. In the future, they are completely replace fighters Canadair NF-5 and F-16, which despite all the modernization, are considered to be already obsolete machines. The seriousness of the intentions of the Turkish side confirmed by the fact that at the end of 2016 the Turkish company Roketsan plans to begin trials of a new cruise missile SOM-J, which is designed for suspension on the F-35 Lightning II.

There are no foreign troops in Turkey, however, the US Air Force regularly uses for its operations Incirlik airbase and Diyarbakir. According to published sources, at the base of Incirlik kept B-61 tactical nuclear weapons [gravity bombs]. Officially, this information was never confirmed.

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