The U.S. Air Force has deployed a small detachment of six Aviano-based F-16s, support equipment and about 300 personnel to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to an Air Force release.
The United States made the deployment following Turkey’s decision late in July to host U.S. aircraft conducting counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) operations. Details on the number and type of aircraft that will ultimately be allowed to operate from Turkey, and from what bases other than Incirlik, are still to come. What is known for now is that basing in Turkey will mean a much shorter trip for U.S. aircraft than at present, allowing for a higher number of sorties each day.
“With Turkey’s decision to open bases for the deployment of U.S. aircraft conducting counter-ISIL operations, the coalition now has another strategic location from which it can conduct strikes if and when necessary,” Air Force Col. Pat Ryder said during an earlier Aug. 7 teleconference with reporters.
The U.S. and Turkey are members of a 60-plus nation coalition committed to the fight against ISIL, but until recently Turkey would not allow coalition aircraft to operate from its bases. Months of negotiation went into the decision by Turkey to allow operations from Turkish soil, but a recent suicide bombing by ISIL in the Turkish border town of Suruc seems to have been a major motivation for the change. Suruc is just across the border from the Syrian town of Kobane, which Syrian Kurds retook from ISIL forces and then held against vicious counterattacks early this year.