Incirlik Ops Increasing Flexibility in Iraq, Syria

The operation of six US F-16s from Incirlik AB, Turkey, has significantly broadened coalition air operations against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, according to the head of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea told reporters Sept. 4 that even though there are only six jets currently operating out of Incirlik, “the F-16s are not alone” in their participation in anti-ISIS strikes. “We are flying armed [remotely piloted aircraft] out of there as well, and that has been an expansion to our capabilities in the northern part of Syria and Iraq,” he said. The F-16s from Aviano AB, Italy, which arrived on Aug. 9, are having a “great effect” on operations, especially since they have aerial tanker support, which increases loiter time over targets and improves flexibility for strikes at greater distances. Killea also praised the inclusion of Turkish air assets into the coalition air tasking order, saying the move will help ensure “further operational integration” in the campaign. However, he declined to provide information on the number and location of strikes Turkish aircraft have carried out so far. When asked if the USAF presence would be enhanced at Incirlik or at other Turkish installations, Killea said he could not talk about ongoing discussions “between the Turkish government and the coalition.”