The power is back on at Incirlik Air Base,Turkey, after almost a week in the dark, but what the future holds for airmen and aircraft at the base remains unclear as Turkey convulses following a failed coup.
U.S. European Command on Friday reassured that with close cooperation with the Turkish military, Incirlik will remain fully prepared “to take on a myriad of missions as we work together to defeat terrorism,” the command said in a statement. “Should the power be interrupted again,” the base still has access to “backup generator power,” the statement said.
Hours after the coup attempt erupted last week, officials assured partners and allies in the fight against the Islamic State group that operations would not cease but instead aircraft would fly from other parts of the region.
“There was a slight decrease in sorties flown July 16-19 at Incirlik for counter-Daesh missions,” Air Force Lt. Col. Chris Karns told Military Times in an email on July 21, using an alternative Arabic name for the Islamic State group. “However, use of other assets occurred in theater to meet mission need. Other aircraft, at other locations, were able to ensure strikes against Daesh continued and ensure the necessary support in places required.”
Flight hours for the A-10 close-air support attack aircraft, normally stationed at Incirlik, were down the last few days, which is to be expected “given the circumstances,” Karns said. “The F-16, F-15E, and B-52 each had an uptick in flying hours during the period of July 10-20.” He said that these aircraft helped offset the temporary decrease in A-10 flying hours.
Shutting part of the facility down in no doubt has had impact “on our operations,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Ralph Jodice. The former commander of NATO Allied Air Command in Izmir, Turkey, is now a NATO senior military adviser teaching young officers how to plan for NATO combat and humanitarian relief operations.
“And not just for airstrikes, but also as a key hub for airlift operations,” he added. “Geostrategically and geopolitically, it’s an extremely important base and location, and not just now — that goes all the way back into the Cold War … and being a long-term NATO ally.”