US, Turkish Pilots Demonstrate New Level of Interoperability

US and Turkish pilots successfully synched their communications for the first time using the Link 16 airborne network during the Anatolian Falcon 2012 exercise that concluded on Thursday in Konya, Turkey. “To be on the system with the Turkish air force was a tremendous success,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Piepkorn, director of operations for the 480th Fighter Squadron at Spangdahlem AB, Germany. More than 250 Spang airmen deployed to Konya with their machines to participate in the bilateral exercise. Before Tuesday’s interoperability breakthrough, aircraft of the two nations operated separately with Link 16, not able to share digital data. “Having our coalition partners on the link definitely increases our capabilities,” said Capt. Ryan Gaffaney, 480th FS pilot. He added, “We can see each others’ positions, know what we’re targeting, and understand what the entire force is doing—a picture is worth a thousand words.” (Konya report by SSgt. Daryl Knee)