July 15 and İncirlik Air Base (1): ‘ASENA’ in the sky
The recording starting at 9:34 a.m. on July 16, 2016 is between the tanker aircraft pilot returning to the İncirlik Air Base and Staff Captain Mustafa Mete Kaygusuz who directed the flights in the air from the Akıncı Aır Base at the 141st Fleet until the morning. It is a farewell speech.
(At the time when the conversation takes place) the coup attempt has been finalized unsuccessfully: The coup plotters at Akıncı had started to leave the base. In the meantime, the pilot of the tanker informs the 141st Fleet that the “United Command Center” (in Eskişehir) has called and said “the İncirlik Aır Base was under control and told us to land.”
Sometime later Kaygusuz answered the pilot, “You can land at İncirlik.”
“We are continuing on to İncirlik,” replied the pilot.
“Thank you for all the work and everything, thank you for your efforts, we are on the return route to İncirlik...” he added.
The “work” and the “efforts” which the pilot thanked for, must be the attacks of the F-16’s taking off from the Akıncı Base and terrorizing the capital from air until the morning, bombing eight different institutions, resulting in the loss of 70 innocent people’s lives. Kaygusuz is the one who directed some of these attacks.
On the document in the indictment, the name of the pilot who had this conversation with Kaygusuz is not mentioned. However, when we look at the Akıncı Base indictment, we have a reasonable guess regarding the person who used the tanker aircraft.
The aircraft the conversation takes place in is the last one of the three tanker aircrafts that took off from the İncirlik Base during the coup attempt. The commander of the aircraft with the “ASENA 03” call sign was Lieutenant Hızır Özyuva and next to him there was Lieutenant Fatih Akbulut as co-pilot. In the cockpit, sitting behind them, was the second co-pilot Staff Squadron Leader Devrim Ağırağaç. In this case, it is probably possible that the speech is between the aircraft commander Lieutenant Özyuva and Kaygusuz sitting by the transmitter at the Akıncı Air Base.
But if you look at the prosecution statements of the pilots of “ASENA 03,” none of them was aware at 9:34 a.m. that a coup attempt had taken place.
For example, Özyuva says, “We landed in the fleet at around 11:00 a.m. After landing, the police took us from the point we landed to the courthouse. At the courthouse, we noticed from the programs we watched on the television that a coup was attempted. We were not aware of the coup attempt from the beginning until the time we were taken to the courthouse.”
The co-pilots are saying they learned about the coup attempt after they landed. Whereas the third tanker aircraft took off from İncirlik, on July 16 at 4:00 a.m., that is to say exactly after five and a half hours at around 10:30 p.m. when the news on the television announced the bridges were closed on the evening of July 15.
The pilots of the aircraft came to the base between 9:00-9:30 p.m. on the evening of July 15 and rested here until their departure.
In contrast, the “boom operator” who is the fourth member of the aircraft, the sergeant in other words, with the technical duty of transferring fuel from one aircraft to the other one with the hose says otherwise.
“I learned there was a coup attempt when I stepped in the aircraft and heard the mechanical team’s conversations,” says Senior Staff Sergeant Bülent Toygar.
According to Toygar’s statement, the tanker aircraft touring around Ankara transferred fuel to only one F-16. In return, the two tanker aircrafts in the first party that took off first at 9:43 p.m. and the second one at 9:47 p.m. operated more intensively on July 15.
The 55-ton fuel-loaded aircraft “ASENA 02” in the control of Staff Squadron Leader Orçun Kuş stayed in the air until 5:20 a.m. and during this time, loaded fuel twice around Ankara at 3:14 a.m. and 4:15. a.m.
The 68-ton fuel-loaded aircraft “ASENA 01” in Lieutenant Osman Yılmaz’s control took off at 9:47 p.m., flew first to Ankara, and later after passing over Kocaeli, flew over the gulf and as the radar detections say, loaded fuel six separate times to two F-16’s at 3:17 a.m., 4:04 a.m., and 5:01 a.m.
There is an important feature of the first two tanker aircrafts whose tasks were assigned to them by the İncirlik 10th Tanker Base Commander Brigadier General Bekir Ercan Van: They were the first aircraft that took off in the coup attempt. The Special Forces entered the premises of the General Chief of Staff around 9:19 p.m. to apprehend the commanders and these aircraft took off 20 minutes later from İncirlik.