The US Air Force has moved six Lockheed Martin F-16s and 300 personnel to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey following the country’s recent decision to host US warplanes as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.
The fighter jets arrived 9 August from Aviano Air Base in Italy, and are set to join the multinational air campaign against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey has until recently been a reluctant participant in the 60-nation coalition against ISIS, but terrorist attacks at home have seen Turkish F-16s strike inside Iraq and Syria for the first time.
Last month, Ankara and Washington reached a long-awaited basing agreement that allows US aircraft to participate in operations from Turkey, greatly reducing the distance American fighters need to travel to reach their targets.
USAF F-16s bristling with laser-guided bombs and air-to-air missiles arrive at Incirlik Air Base in southern Turkey.
US Air Force
“The US Air Force deployed a small detachment – six F-16 Fighting Falcons, support equipment and about 300 personnel,” US European Command said in a statement. “This follows Turkey's decision to host the deployment of US aircraft conducting counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) operations.”
The detachment of F-16s hail from the 31st Fighter Wing, which maintains two Falcon squadrons in Italy. They join a large contingent of fighters, bombers and unmanned aerial vehicles already operating from bases in the Gulf, Iraq and Cyprus.
As of 29 July, the US-lead air campaign had destroyed 8,789 ISIL targets including 116 tanks and 336 Humvees, according to the Pentagon.
US Air Force