Turkish forces are preparing to hold their biggest ever exercises in the Aegean, involving frigates, destroyers and warplanes, between Feb. 27 and March 8, the Anadolu news agency reports.
In a show of military muscle-flexing, more than one hundred warships will conduct drills — with live ammunition — in the exercise dubbed the “Blue Homeland.”
CNN Türk described the exercise as a “war rehearsal.” It pointed out that, in addition to the ships, combat aircraft, helicopters, unmanned airplanes (“UAV bayraktar”), Marines, army units and Coast Guard escorts will be actively involved.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar will observe the exercise.
The “Blue Homeland” exercise comes during a period of heightened tensions in the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean, as Turkey plans to dispatch a second drilling ship to areas around Cyprus later this week.
Last week, Mevlut Cavusoglu, the country’s foreign minister said that Turkey will begin drilling for oil and gas near Cyprus in the near future.
“Let those who come to the region from far away, and their companies, see that nothing can be done in that region without us. Nothing at all can be done in the Mediterranean without Turkey, we will not allow that,” Cavusoglu declared.
Turkey has made clear its intentions to drill in areas to the west of the island, in spite of protests from the Cypriot government and its allies.