The demanding flight test requirements of the Turkish Air Force are met by 401 Filo, a specialist unit flying F-4s and F-16s from Eskişehir. Cem Doğut investigates its weapons trials work.
Flight test focus
As one of the final operators of the Phantom, the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK, Turkish Air Force) has embarked on successive programmes to extend the jets’ service life and increase capability. As long ago as August 24, 1995 an agreement was signed with the then Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) covering structural and avionics work on 54 F-4Es. Of these aircraft, 26 were upgraded at IAI facilities and the rest at the 1. Hava İkmal Bakım Merkezi (1. HİBM, 1st Air Supply Maintenance Centre), in Eskişehir. After modernisation, the Phantom was redesignated as the F-4E 2020 Terminator. The project also established a system integration laboratory and an avionics testing and integration centre at the 1. HİBM. Today, these facilities form the basis of 401 Test Filo – the THK’s dedicated test and evaluation squadron.