Turkish News

IN FEBRUARY 1994 161 Filo of the Turkish Air Force at Bandirma received its first LANTIRN-equipped Block 40 F-16C, making the unit the first outside the USAF to gain the LANTIRN night-attack capability. Block 40 F-16s have longer undercarriage legs to accommodate the two underfuselage LANTIRN pods — targeting on the right and navigation on the left — bulged undercarriage doors and relocated landing lights on the nosegear doors.

The squadron had seven LANTIRN F-16s in service by May 1994 and the whole unit is expected to have converted within two years following which 162 Filo, also at Bandirma, will begin conversion. It is also planned to add AMRAAM capability to the F-16s in 1995-6.

In 1995 the last Dakotas in Turkish Air Force (THK) service will be replaced by Turkish-built Airtech CN-235s, ending almost half a century of THK Dak operations, which began with delivery of the first example in June 1946. About 13 Daks remain in service with the 1nci and 2nci Taktik Hava Kuweti Komutanligi (1st and 2nd Tactical Air Force), HQ Flight Tactical Air Force, and the Hava Harp Okulo (air warfare school). The three ECM Dakotas of the 7nci Eleklronik Filo at Etimesgut are also to be retired by April 1995.

In December 1993 the 12nci Ulastirana Grubo (transport wing) at Etimesgut began replacing its C-47s with CN-235s and its tenth example was due in May. Two of the unit’s aircraft are VIP-configured and wear a white colour scheme rather than the normal camouflage.

Although it had previously planned to upgrade its ageing Grumman S-2E Tracker fleet and covert them to turboprop power, the Turk Donama Havaciliai (Turkish Navy) has now abandoned the idea. The aircraft were withdrawn from active service in July 1993 pending a decision on the upgrade. Studies are now under way for a replacement aircraft, with a requirement for between six and eight.

The P-3C Orion has already been rejected simply on cost grounds and the choice is now expected to be between the Airtech CN-235MP and Fokker 50

Maritime Enforcer II. Although the CN- 235 would have the advantage of a local production line already set up for the type, the maritime patrol version is still under development and a decision is not likely to be made until the type is ready for service.

An aviation branch of the Sahil Guvenlik, Turkey’s coast guard, was established in November 1993. Current equipment comprises three Agusta-Bell 206A Jet Rangers (TCSG-8097, ‘8100, ‘8189) and one Maule MX-7 (TCSG- 10081) all based at Izmit-Topel naval base. Although the serialling system seems a little haphazard, it is thought that they are based on the aircraft’s construction numbers.

Rene van Woezik

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