The Turkish air force launched one of its largest ever strike missions on 16 December, sending more than 50 aircraft to take part in an attack on Kurdish rebel camps 150km (81nm) inside northern Iraq.
Flown from Diyarbakir and Malatya air bases, the night-time mission involved 30 Lockheed Martin F-16s equipped with Lockheed Lantirn targeting pods and 20 modernised McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantoms (file photo of both types below). Inflight refuelling support was provided by two Boeing KC-135 tankers.
© Turkish air force
Ankara says its fighters deployed 453kg (1,000lb) Mk82 and 907kg Mk84 bombs and Rafael AGM-142 Popeye air-to-surface missiles against PKK positions around Hakurk, the Kandil mountains and Shedan. The mission was supported by Turkish air force pilots conducting their first night vision goggle-equipped sorties since last June's "Anatolian Eagle" exercise in Konya.
Meanwhile, Turkey's undersecretariat for defence industries has cancelled a contest to acquire 54 utility helicopters for air force, army, navy, special forces and firefighting duties, and has instead started direct talks with AgustaWestland and Sikorsky for a replacement effort, under which Turkish Aerospace Industries would produce potentially 80-100 aircraft.
Ankara-based sources say both bidders could secure business under the new framework. Eurocopter and NH Industries had previously also been in contention for the cross-service project.