|The Turkish Air Force |
The Turkish Air Force or Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (TuAF) celebrated its 90th birthday in 2001,
making it one of the oldest air forces in the world. While still part of the Ottoman Empire, the TuAF was founded on the first of June 1911 and
the first two pilots were trained in France that same year.
In 1951 the first jet propelled aircraft entered service with the TuAF when two ex USAF T-33's were delivered. In 1952 the TuAF received
its first F-84Gs that were taken on charge at Balikesir AB. It that same year the TuAF entered the NATO and as a result of that the strike force
of Turkey was greatly improved due to deliveries of a huge amount of jets like the Republic F-84, Canadair F-86 Sabre and North American F-100
Super Sabre. Turkey became part of the 6th Allied Tactical Air Force of the NATO Allied Air Forces of Europe. For more than 30 years, the T-33
has formed the backbone of the TuAF advanced training fleet. Primary training in that time was done on the locally produced MKEK (Makina ve
Kimya Endustisi Kurumu - The National Foundation for Promoting Machinery and Chemical Industries) 4 Ugur that was developed from the Miles
Magister and the Canadian Car and Foundry T-34A's that were donated by the RCAF in 1956. This role was also fulfilled by the Cessna T-41D when
the delivery of 30 materialized in 1972. Most of the surviving The T-34's were donated to the Türk Hava Kurumu and some were sold to the civilian
A significant event took place in May 1963 when the first Lockheed F-104Gs were delivered to 144 Filo that was formed that same year at
4 AJÜ - Mürted AB (later renamed to Akinci). Within a time-span of 23 years, more than four hundred Starfighters were delivered to the TuAF and
remained operational until 1995 when they were replaced by the locally produced Turkish Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin F-16C/D that still
form the backbone of the fighter force of the TuAF. For the advanced training role the TuAF operates the Northrop T-38A Talon and the Cessna
T-37B/C serves as a basic jet trainer. Both types can be found at the Izmir based training units. In 1965 the Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter entered
service. Over 200 F-5s were delivered from a number of countries like the United States, Norway, The Netherlands, Libya and Taiwan. Today the
complete F-5 fleet is based at 3 AJÜ - Konya AB. The type is also operated by the Türk Yildizlari (Turkish Stars), sporting the two colours of
the Turkish Flag and the double headed Seljuk Eagle underneath the planes. Currently 48 F-5s are upgraded to F-16 lead-in trainers at 1 Hava Ikmal
at Eskisehir with the help of Israel Aircraft Industries engineers. An aircraft that was only operational for a short period of time but
that gained combat experience with the TuAF was the Convair F-102. Six years after it entered service it was involved in the Cyprus invasion in
1974. Due to an arms embargo the Delta Daggers could not be maintained and in 1979 the aircraft retired.
Next to the F-16C/D, the McDonnell Douglas (R)F-4E fulfils an important role within the TuAF as both a fighter/bomber and a Recce aircraft.
More than 200 Phantoms were delivered since it entered service in 1974. The latest delivery of Phantoms comprised of 46 ex German Air Force RF-4E's
that were assigned to 113 Filo at Eskisehir AB and 173 Filo at Erhaç AB. 54 F-4Es will be upgraded to the F-4E-2020 "Terminator". The upgrade is
partially performed by Israel Aircraft Industries and partially by the TuAF. The upgrade is well underway and the Eskisehir based 111 Filo and
Erhaç based 171 Filo have already received the first upgraded examples.
The Transport fleet of the TuAF received a boost when the ageing Douglas C-54D's got support from the Lockheed C-130E in 1965. The
Hercs currently operate next to the C-160D Transall from Kayseri/Erkilet AB. Flying from Ankara/Etimesgut and Izmir is the TAI co-produced
CN-235M-100. Since 1992 more that 50 were delivered. The VIP transport role that was fulfilled by the Vickers Viscount 794D from 1971 until
1993 is taken over by the CN-235s.
|Tactical Air Force Commands |
The TuAF comprises of four Tactical Air Force Commands (nci THHK):
|1nci THHK |
The first Tactical Air Force Command consists of four major air wings (or Ana Jet Üs (AJÜ)), situated in the western part of Turkey.
The headquarters are situated in Eskisehir. The aircraft that operate under this command wear yellow/black checkered tail bands.
1nci AJÜ - Eskisehir
4nci AJÜ - Ankara/Akinci
6nci AJÜ - Bandirma
9nci AJÜ - Balikesir
Besides those bases, 1nci has four spare airbases (Hava Meydani) where regular deployments are taking place. These are Izmir-Adnan Menderes, Çorlu, Afyon, Akhisar and Sivrihisar. 1nci also has facilities on Topel and Istanbul Atatürk.
|2nci THHK |
The headquarters of the second Tactical Air Force Command in Diyarbakir has the responsibility of three airbases in the east of Turkey.
The aircraft that operate under this command wear red/white checkered tail bands.
5nci AJÜ - Merzifon
7nci AJÜ - Erhaç
8nci AJÜ - Diyarbakir
2nci also has Hava Meydani. These are Batman, Erzurum, Mus and Sivas.
|Hava Egitim Komutanligi |
The third Tactical Air Force command has its headquarters in Izmir and consits of three AJÜ's, which all act as part of Hava Egitim Komutanligi or Air Training Command.
2nci AJÜ - Çigli and Kaklic
3nci AJÜ - Konya
|Hava Lojistik Komutanligi|
The Air Logistics Command is responsible for fulfilling logistic needs as well as transport and maintenance for the TuAF. The three Hava Ikmal Bakim Merkezi Komutanligi or Air Force Maintenance centres are:
1 HIBM.K - Eskisehir
2 HIBM.K - Kayseri/Erkilet
3 HIBM.K - Etimesgut
|The TuAF serial system |
In 1971 the TuAF went through a reorganization that put an end to the use of the square roundel of the aircraft. It was replaced by the
circular roundel that the TuAF still uses today. In that same year all TuAF aircraft were assigned a "fiscal year" like we know from the USAF
serial number system. The fiscal year assigned is derived from the (approximate) year of production or delivery of the aircraft.
- Whilst most of the TuAF aircraft were delivered from the United States of America, the serials carried on the aircraft or used for
TuAF records is the serial assigned by the Department of Defence. For example Lockheed F-104G 61-2623. The tail number that is painted on
the aircraft is always derived from the DoD serial number. For example 12623.
- When the aircraft was not assigned a DoD serial number like ex RCAF CF-104 104869, the possible serial number carried on the aircraft
would be 62-869, hence the production year of 1962.
- Another possibility that is used for serial number assignment is the aircrafts construction number. For example CN-235M-100 with tail
number 052 was assigned construction number C-052 by CASA. And on F-104S with tail number 6888 both the construction number and the serial
number are identical.
Photo: Frank Smith
Photo: Frank Smith