WASHINGTON -INTERNATIONAL – Six U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft and about 300 personnel arrived yesterday at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to support Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said here today.
The F-16s will begin flying missions against ISIL in the coming days, the Pentagon press operations chief added.
“The primary strategic benefit of [operating from Turkey] is that it gives us greater proximity to the targets we need to strike against ISIL, he said.
The detachment is from the 31st Fighter Wing based at Aviano Air Base in Italy, according to a statement from U.S. European Command, and follows Turkey’s decision to host the deployment of U.S. aircraft conducting counter-ISIL operations.
As members of a more than 60-nation coalition, the United States and Turkey “are committed to the fight against ISIL in the pursuit of peace and stability in the region,” the statement said.
Incirlik Air Base is a U.S. Air Forces in Europe installation. About 1,800 U.S. personnel are stationed at the NATO base, Davis said.
Before the F-16s arrived at Incirlik, Davis said, “we had been conducting armed [unmanned aerial vehicle] flights out of Turkey that started about a week before. Prior to that [they flew] unarmed UAVs for the purpose of [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance].”