Turkey is a NATO ally, a close friend of the United States, and an important partner in the international Coalition against ISIL. Last month, 12 F-15s arrived at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, reflecting both our commitment to ensure the safety of our NATO ally and our commitment to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Since their arrival in November, the F-15Cs flew invaluable training missions with Turkish counterparts enhancing the interoperability our air forces.
Six of these F-15s (F-15Cs) were sent in response to the Government of Turkey’s request for support in securing the sovereignty of Turkish airspace. This deployment served not only as an immediate response to a request from an ally, but as an exercise for the U.S. Air Force ability to deploy aircraft and Airmen on short notice to Turkey, if ever needed.
During this deployment, a bilateral agreement was finalized that outlined the procedures for combat air patrol missions to be flown by U.S. pilots and aircraft. This enduring agreement and knowledge gained from these training missions allows U.S. Air Force to support the air defense missions in Turkey if needed, either with these F-15 air frames or other U.S. platforms in the
Six F-15Es deployed in support of counter-ISIL operations. They joined our manned (12 A-10s) and remotely piloted aircraft as well as coalition aircraft to launch strikes missions against ISIL in Syria and Iraq. Operations against ISIL will continue by these units from a variety of different operating locations – the end of this deployment does not indicate a reduction in counter ISIL operations. Coalition aircraft operating from Incirlik are expected to increase and continue to increase in the coming months.
Beyond these operations, EUCOM continues a dialogue with Turkey to evaluate options on the most effective means to counter ISIL, including along its borders, in a manner that promotes Turkey’s security and regional stability.