Turkey's armed forces headquarters has released details of a major offensive in northern Iraq between 21 and 29 February, which was Ankara's first combined air and land operation against PKK Kurdish rebels in the country since 1995.

About 10,000 Turkish soldiers advanced up to 70km (38nm) inside Iraqi territory during the offensive, striking more than 270 targets, including rebel training and command-and-control facilities.

Some 240 PKK personnel and 27 Turkish troops were killed, along with the two-man crew of an army Bell AH-1P Cobra attack helicopter (similar aircraft pictured below), which was shot down by an SA-7 surface-to-air missile.

 AH-1 Turkey
© Turkish armed forces

The Turkish air force launched a campaign against the PKK in northern Iraq last December, using Lockheed Martin F-16 and McDonnell Douglas F-4E fighters, and provided night attacks and close air support for ground forces.

"It was a hard operation during the winter," says Turkish armed forces commander Gen Yasar Buyukanit, adding that missions were conducted mainly at night in temperatures down to -15°C and with heavy snow. "We hit all the targets with high success," he says.

Ankara has also revealed that operations have been supported with two leased Israel Aerospace Industries Heron unmanned air vehicles.

Production deliveries of 10 UAVs will begin in April, with the training of Turkish crews already completed, says Murat Bayar, under-secretary of Turkey's under-secretariat for defence industries procurement agency.

Meanwhile, the Turkish army is looking to add 10-12 AH-1W Super Cobras to support operations in south-eastern Turkey until its new AgustaWestland T129 attack helicopters become available.

Bayar hints that an Italian offer to supply an interim capability with baseline A129s is unlikely to advance because the aircraft's engines are not suitable for operations in the region's hot and high conditions.


Source: FlightGlobal.com