US Increasing Forces at Incirlik

The US is finalizing a deployment of about 12 more F-15s to Incirlik AB, Turkey, to join the 12 A-10s already stationed at the base as a way to “thicken” air operations against ISIS in northern Syria, a senior defense official said Oct. 30. The deployment, a mix of F-15C Eagles and F-15E Strike Eagles, will quadruple the number of aircraft deployed to the base from earlier this fall, when the contingent was just six F-16s. There also is a combat search and rescue detachment set up at Diyarbakir Air Base in Turkey. The US wants a “greater density” of planes striking targets, to coincide with an increase of intelligence assets developing targets, the defense official said. “We want to be prosecuting as many targets as possible, with the right assets in theater, in proximity to do that,” the defense official said. US Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, commander of US European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander, said earlier on Oct. 30 that the US wants to build up the base to increase “capabilities,” and this could include deployments of aircraft from partner nations. The move comes as Turkey has taken steps to increase the security on its border, including tasking a Turkish army general with the mission to fortify the border. Breedlove said that has resulted in a “marked improvement,” though there is still more work to do, he said.