Turkish navy to conduct massive military drills in Aegean Sea
Turkish naval forces will conduct large-scale naval exercises in the Mediterranean and the Aegean Sea between Feb. 25 and March 7, the Defence Ministry said on Feb. 22.
The exercises dubbed “Blue Homeland 2021” will involve a wide array of Turkish military assets, including 87 warships, 27 aircraft, 20 helicopters and drones.
Units from the Turkish Air Force, the Coast Guard Command, and the Gendarmerie General Command will also take part in these drills.
The purpose of this military exercise is to evaluate the preparedness of the headquarters, units and ships affiliated with the Naval Forces Command, it said in the statement.
The drills will also involve training in live-fire scenarios and actively make sure of unmanned vehicles to “create real-life operational conditions,” according to the statement.
Surface and air defense shots, in which high-speed unmanned aerial vehicles will be used as targets, will also be performed during the exercise, it added.
Meanwhile, at least 20,000 U.S. troops, 145 helicopters and more than 1,800 armored vehicles will arrive in Alexandroupolis (Dedeağaç), a Greek port city in western Thrace, for the “Defender Europe 21” military exercise in Central and Eastern Europe within the framework of NATO, daily Hürriyet reported on Feb. 23.
The first part of the U.S. forces that will take part in the exercise will arrive tomorrow in Alexan-droupolis port on the cargo ship “Endurance.” The giant troop dispatch will be completed in seven separate campaigns by May.
Based on the “Russian threat in Central and Eastern Europe” scenarios, the exercise in which western NATO states will also participate will start in spring and will be over by mid-summer.
It will be held in Greece, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania and Slovenia.
Greece was included in the “Defender Europe” plans for the first time this year.
In this context, some U.S. and Greek helicopters are being planned to conduct joint exercises in May in a military shooting training area in Xanthi (İskeçe), a city in Western Thrace where the majority of the population is Turks.
Greek authorities will provide all kinds of convenience to the U.S., which has a naval and air base in Crete, to use the Alexandroupolis port, according to the daily.
The U.S. officials had requested Athens to provide facilities to the U.S. forces in Greek naval and air bases in 20 different regions, including Skiros (İskiri) Island, as well as Kavala and Thessaloniki (Selanik).
The request will be negotiated in the coming months.