Six F-15E Strike Eagle fighters flew into Incirlik airbase Thursday to join a growing American fleet of strike and close air support aircraft based in Turkey for a stepped-up campaign against ISIS, U.S. European Command said.
The F-15Es from the 48th Fighter Wing based at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, will have the mission from Incirlik, about 70 miles from the Syrian border, of countering the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in both Syria and Iraq as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, EuCom said in a statement.
The F15Es will join six F-15Cs, also from the 48th Fighter Wing, which arrived at Incirlik last Friday. EuCom said, "The F-15Cs are conducting combat air patrols in Turkish air space to help secure sovereign Turkish airspace," suggesting that the F-15Cs were there to guard against incursions by Russian aircraft.
The single-seat F15C is more of an air superiority weapons system while the two-seat F-15E is billed as a Dual Role Fighter capable of precision strike missions as well as air-to-air interdiction.
Twelve A-10 Thunderbolt close air support aircraft have also recently deployed to Incirlik and have been carrying out what an Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman described as "devastating" attacks against ISIS in support of Syrian-Arab fighters on the ground in northern Syria.
Earlier this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he was open to the U.S. using other airbases in Turkey for the fight against ISIS.
Erdogan also suggested that the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS was becoming more inclined to back the Turkish call for the establishment of a no-fly zone along the Turkish-Syrian border, but the U.S. has thus far rejected a no-fly zone.
The EuCom statement said, "We will continue to work closely with our Turkish partners on supporting the sovereignty of Turkish airspace and our shared efforts to degrade and destroy" ISIS.
--Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@military.com.