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Turkish Air Force - History Since 1944

The Turkish Air Force has a vivid and honorable history. The Turkish Air Force has a long histroy of action - action that has defined a nation's perseverance, courage and continuity. Turkey's geographic location has put it in the crossroads of many past conflicts that have defined its Air Force's might.

In 1944, a decision was made to combine all air units, functioning as affiliated to Air Under Secretariat within the structure of Ministry of Defense for logistic support and to Turkish General Staff for operations and training since 1940, under a single command. For this purpose, the Air Force Command was established on 31 January 1944. Thus the Turkish Air Force Command acquired its own identity as a separate command within the structure of the Turkish Armed Forces along with the Army and Navy.

In the organization of the Turkish Air Force which was actually inaugurated on 4 February 1944, only the combatant air units were affiliated to the command while logistics support units and training establishments were left within the structures of the Ministry of Defense and General Staff respectively.

Lieutenant General Zeki Dogan was assigned as the first commander of the newly established Turkish Air Force. The Air Force Command was upgraded to army level in 1947, and logistic support establishments and all air units / establishments other than the Air War (Staff) College were affiliated to the Air Force Command in 1948 and 1950, respectively.

After the war, Turkey bought Spitfires, Mosquitos and Beaufighters from the British. America soon replaced Britain as the major source of modern aircraft. In 1946, after President Truman's declaration of the "Truman Doctrine," the Joint American Mission for Aid to Turkey was established in Ankara. It was a tri-service organization which administered the shipment of American equipment to Turkey and helped train Turkish personnel. The U.S. Air Force contingent originally consisted of the 1172nd Foreign Mission Squadron. In 1948, Turkey received P-47, B-26 and C-47 aircraft from the US. With this came American training, supply and maintenance systems.

Subsequently, in parallel with the developing aviation technology, schools inaugurated at various times to train aviation personnel on specialties and branches other than pilots, were gathered under a single command in 1950, and for this purpose the Air Technical Schools Command was established.

An important development also occurred in 1950 about aircraft types in the inventory of the Air Force and a decision was made to acquire jet aircraft. Therefore, eight flying personnel were sent to the USA on 15 October 1950 to receive jet training and were assigned as instructors in orientation training for jet aircraft, after completing their training in the USA and returning to the country on 31 August 1951.

In 1951, an air force academy was opened in Istanbul and Turkey entered the jet age with the receipt of F-84s. In the same year, the establishment of bases and squadrons was initiated, and the 9th Jet Base Command established in Balikesir became the first jet base of the Turkish Air Force while the 191st, 192nd and the 193th squadrons the first jet squadrons.

Since becoming a member of NATO, the Turkish Air Force has undergone a number of changes. After Turkey's integration into NATO in 1952, transition to jet aircraft gained speed and propeller-driven aircraft were gradually staged out. In the same year air divisions were upgraded to corps level and named as tactical air forces. Since joining NATO the Turkish Air Force has also flown the following American aircraft: T-33, F-86, F-100, F-102, F-104, F-4, F-5, F-16, C-130, and KC-135R.

On 30 August 1956, the Army Corps Air Training Command was established and all units and institutions regarding the training of air force personnel were gathered under the jurisdiction of this command. Later, it was called the Air Training Command in 1957. The training and proficiency level of the Turkish Air Force personnel was increased to the level required by the modern age and this level was maintained at all times in between the dates the Air Force was established and the year 1951 during which transition to jet aircraft was accomplished. This characteristic of the Turkish Air Force personnel continued even after the transition to jet aircraft and became a source of pride.

In this period; some important events give an idea about the level of training and proficiency of the Turkish Air Force personnel included: two championships in international military pentathlon, flight rally, 1954 - 1955 and hence winning the Challenge Cup; first place in Best Hit air gunnery race, 1971 and air gunnery race, 1955 performed in NATO's Southeastern Region; second place in Best Hit air gunnery race, 1972; championships in air gunnery race, 1973 and military pentathlon race, 1975

The TAF saw very limited action in the Cyprus police operation of 1964, but was extensively involved in the Cyprus operation of 1974. ;

The capabilities of the Turkish Air Force gained new dimensions as of 1980s with the 3rd generation aircraft incorporated into service. The flight training systems were arranged according to this inventory structure and the Air Force reached a training readiness level to meet the requirements of the 2000s.

Within this context, the Turkish Air Force units participated in the Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo operations by deploying one of its squadrons at Ghedi Air Base Italy since 1993 and Aviano Air Base since 29 May 2000 in line with the United Nations resolutions and generated 35647.30 / 10626 hours/sorties without any incident and returned to Turkey.

Technical and academic training capabilities were also improved at the same level and as of 1990s personnel at various ranks from different countries started training at the Air Force Academy, Air Technical Schools Command, Air Language School Command, Flight Schools and particularly at Aerospace Medicine and Physiological Training Center in Turkey using state of the art systems.

Presently, it is composed of the First Tactical Air Force headquartered in Eskisehir, the Second Tactical Air Force headquartered in Diyarbakir, the Air Training Command headquartered in Izmir and the Air Logistics Command headquartered in Ankara.




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