Composite Recon Track requiring two missions
The Incirlik Air Base (Turkish: İncirlik Hava Üssü) (ICAO: LTAG), an Air Base in the Southern Region of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is located in İncirlik, five miles east of Adana, Turkey's fifth largest city, and 56 kilometres (35 mi) from the Mediterranean Sea.
Incirlik is the home of the 10th Air Wing (Ana Jet Üs or AJÜ) of the 2nd Air Force Command (Hava Kuvvet Komutanlığı) of the Turkish Air Force (Türk Hava Kuvvetleri). Other wings of this command are located in Merzifon (LTAP), Malatya/Erhaç (LTAT) and Diyarbakır (LTCC).
Incirlik has a United States Air Force (U.S.A.F.) complement of about 5,000 airmen, with several hundred British and Turkish Air Force airmen also present (-late 2002). The primary unit stationed here is the 39th Air Base Wing (39 ABW) of the U.S.A.F.
Incirlik has one 3048 meter-long main runway and one 2740 meter-long secondary runway, both located among about 57 hardened aircraft shelters.
Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Andy García, Julia Roberts, and Steven Soderbergh visited the base in December 2001
Incirlik Ab Airport - Brad Pitt in cockpit of Jaguar GR3A
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of the Incirlik Air Base in the spring of 1951. The U.S.A.F. initially planned to use the base as an emergency staging and recovery site for medium and heavy bombers. The Turkish General Staff and the U.S.A.F. signed a joint-use agreement for the new Air Base in December 1954. On February 21, 1955, the Air Base was officially named Adana Air Base, with the 7216th Air Base Squadron as the host unit. This Air Base was renamed the "Incirlik Air Base" on February 28, 1958.
Reconnaissance missions from Incirlik
Even the early years of its existence proved the value of the presence of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, not only to counter the threat of the communist Soviet Union during the Cold War, but also to responding to crises in the Middle East, such as in Lebanon and Israel.
Project 119L, a public U.S. Air Force weather balloon launching program served as a cover story (misinformation) for the true objective of the Incirlik Air Base: to mount strategic reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union. Under the codename "GENETRIX", these balloon launches were carried out beginning on February 1956. Following some weather balloon operations, pilots began flying American Lockheed U-2 airplane reconnaissance missions as part of "Operation Overflight" by late 1957, including on nonstop flights back and forth between Incirlik and a NATO Air Base in northern Norway.
In addition, U.S. Air Force Boeing RB-47H Stratojets and U.S. Navy P4M-1Q Mercator and A3D-1Q Skywarrior reconnaissance flights operated from here into Soviet-claimed air space over the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and also as far east as Afghanistan. The Incirlik Air Base was the main U-2 flight base in this entire region until May 1, 1960, when a volley of about 14 Soviet SA-2 surface-to-air missiles shot down the U-2 of the American CIA pilot Francis Gary Powers near Sverdlovsk, Russia, a test site in the Soviet Union's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) program.
The Lebanon crisis
The Lebanon crisis of 1958 exploded during the summer of 1958, prompting the President Dwight D. Eisenhower of the United States to order the U.S.A.F. Tactical Air Command "Composite Air Strike Force Bravo" (several squadrons) to fly immediately from the United States to Incirlik. This Composite Air Strike Force consisted of F-100 Super Sabres, B-57 Canberras, RF-101 Voodoos, B-66 Destroyers, along with the supporting WB-66 weather planes. These aircraft and their supporting airmen overwhelmed the facilities of the Incirlik Air Base - which were also supporting air transport planes that carried a U.S. Army infantry battalion from Germany to Lebanon. In the long run, absolutely no ground fighting erupted involving the U.S. Army or the U.S. Marine Corps. Hence the U.S. Air Force warplanes flew non-combat missions to cover allied troop movements, to carry out a show-of-force flights over Lebanon, including overBeirut, aerial reconnaissance flights, and true news and propaganda leaflet drops on Lebanon.
As a part of an effort to bring units with combat experience into the region of Turkey, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) deactivated the 7216th Air Base Squadron, which had been promoted to an Air Base Group, and activated the 39th Tactical Group in its place at Incirlik on April 1, 1966. This Air Base Group assumed control of the permanent Air Force support units there, and it hosted the rotational Air Force squadrons that conducted training operations, and also maintained a NATO deterrent air force at the Incirlik Air Base.
As a Training site
After the Lebanon crisis, the Tactical Air Command deployed F-100 fighter squadrons on 100-day rotations to Incirlik from the United States. The flying mission at Incirlik further diversified in 1970 when the Turkish Air Force agreed to allow the U.S. Air Forces in Europe to use its air-to-ground missile testing range at 240 km northwest Konya, providing a suitable training area for the warplane squadrons deployed to Incirlik. These units also conducted training at Incirlik’s offshore air-to-air missile range over the Mediterranean Sea.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, except during the Cyprus dispute, many types of U.S. Air Force warplanes, including F-4 Phantom IIs, F-15 Eagles, F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-111 Aardvarks, A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, and the C-130 Hercules were based at Incirlik.
In mid-1975, the Turkish government announced that all American military bases in Turkey would be closed and transferred to the Turkish Air Force. This action was in response to an arms embargo that the United States Congress imposed on Turkey for using American-supplied equipment during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. Only the Incirlik Air Base and the İzmir Air Base remained open due to their NATO responsibilities, but all other non-NATO activities at these locations were suspended.
After Congress lifted the embargo in September 1978, and also restored military and naval assistance to Turkey, normal operations resumed in Turkey, and the United States and Turkey signed a "Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement" (DECA) on March 29, 1980. After signing the DECA, the USAFE initiated the "Turkey Catch-up Plan" to improve the quality-of-life of airmen stationed at Incirlik. One of the major projects was a completely new base housing complex for airmen and officers.
After Iraq’s 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait, the 7440th Composite Wing (Provisional) assumed operational control of the 39th Tactical Group. The 7440th was the air component of Joint Task Force Proven Force, which eventually controlled 140 aircraft and opened a northern front, forcing Iraq to split its defenses between the north and the south, where the main thrust of coalition attacks originated as part of "Desert Storm". Following the war, Incirlik hosted "Combined Task Force Provide Comfort" (OPC), the effort to provide humanitarian relief to millions of Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq.
The 39th TACG was redesignated the 39th Wing on October 1, 1993 and restructured as a standard Air Force objective wing.
The U.S. State Department’s "Operation Quick Transit" evacuated thousands of Kurds from northern Iraq late in 1996. The wing provided logistical support in Turkey to this operation, which signaled the end of the humanitarian aspect of "Provide Comfort". OPC ended December 31, 1996, and "Operation Northern Watch" (ONW) took its place January 1, 1997 with the task to enforce the U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone north of the 36th parallel in Iraq.
The 39th Air and Space Expeditionary Wing was activated at Incirlik AB on September 15, 1997, to support and command USAF assets deployed to Incirlik supporting ONW. Incirlik’s tent city, Hodja Village, became the USAF’s largest.
Following the September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attacks
In response to the September 11, 2001 attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001. Incirlik served as a main hub for missions in support for the war in Afghanistan, including humanitarian airlift operations, MC-130 special operations missions, KC-135 refueling missions and sustainment operations for deployed forces. The aerial port managed a 6-fold increase in airflow during the height of OEF. When the main bases in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan were constructed, Incirlik’s airflow supporting OEF decreased to a baseline sustainment level.
The War in Iraq
ONW ended with the beginning of the Iraq Invasion on March 19, 2003. ONW flew its last patrol on March 17, 2003, and closed a successful 12-year mission to contain the Iraqi military and inactivated May 1, 2003. The 39th ASEW was also inactivated, effective May 1, 2003. The Wing was deactivated on July 16, 2003 and the 39th Air Base Group was activated in its place.
On August 19, 2003, the first rotation of deployed KC-135 Stratotankers and airmen arrived at Incirlik to support various operations in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks as well as the post-invasion reconstruction of Iraq and the ensuing insurgency.
On January 6, 2004, more than 300 soldiers of what would become thousands transited through Incirlik as the first stop back to their home post, after spending almost a year in Iraq. Incirlik was part of what was described as the largest troop movement in U.S. history. Incirlik provided soldiers with a cot, warm location, entertainment and food for a few hours outside of a hostile war zone.
On March 12, 2004, the 39th Air Base Group deactivated, and the 39th Air Base Wing activated to provide the best mix of required support and, as new mission requirements emerge, to shoulder the burden and better contribute in the global war on terrorism.
The Response to the South Asian earthquake
Incirlik played a bridge role by providing support in the relief operation started after the October 8, 2005 South Asia earthquake. With the help of Turkish and American airmen, five C-130 Hercules cargo planes of from Air Bases in Italy, Britain, Greece, and France flew urgently-needed supplies including 10,000 tents from the warehouse of U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in İskenderun, Turkey to Islamabad, Pakistan on October 19.
Hezbollah-Israel War 2006
During the brief War between Hezbollah and Israel in July 2006, the Incirlik Air Base provided solace to Americans who had been evacuated by U.S. Navy warships from Beirut, Lebanon to Mersin, Turkey.
Nuclear weapons at Incirlik
As of April, 2010, the Incirlik Air Base is believed to be the storage magazine for about 100 American B61 nuclear bombs. The United States has considered withdrawing these nuclear bombs from Turkey, and from several other foreign locations.
Following facilities exist for the service people and their family members:
Incirlik Ab Airport
Incirlik Ab Airport
Incirlik Ab Airport - KC-135R Stratotanker from the Ohio Air National Guard's
121st Air Refueling Wing at Incirlik, Turkey
Incirlik Ab Airport - U.S. Navy EA-6B Prowler taking off from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey
MR-2 Nimrod at Incirlik Air Base
EA-6 Prowlers - Incirlik Air Base
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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