Turkey’s President Erdogan said Ankara may evict US forces from its Incirlik and Kurecik bases, a response to Washington’s sanctions. The Pentagon is now doing everything it can to keep relations with Turkey from spiraling into a NATO dead zone.
The USA currently still stores 40 of its B61 European stationed nuclear bombs at Incirlik. The Air Base has a 3,048-meter-long runway that can accommodate any type of jet, including strategic nuclear bombers.
The huge location offers aircraft dispersal areas, shelters, warehouses, communication centers at the base, as well as radio, lighting, navigation equipment, HQ units, maintenance and auxiliary areas.
It’s the home of the 10th Air Wing of the 2nd Air Force Command of the Turkish Air Force, and the 39th Air Base Wing of the US Air Force. Estimates vary, but there are up to 5,000 US Air Force personnel stationed there.
Incirlik accommodates KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling tankers. These jets participated in the air operations in Syria and Iraq. There are also reconnaissance aircraft and drones at the base.
Incirlik was actively used by the US Air Force during the 1958 Lebanon crisis, Operation Desert Storm (1991), Operation Desert Fox (1998), as well as the wars in Afghanistan (from 2001), Iraq (from 2003), and Syria (2010).
If Recep Tayyip Erdogan asks the Americans to pack up and leave (he might not even let them pack up), that will definitely reduce the US Air Force’s combat and operational capacity in the Middle East.
Incirlik affords Washington serious leverage in its dealings with countries in the region and its ability to have an impact on their political and military situations. Its geopolitical value is exceptional.
Certainly, Ankara still draws heavily on imports of many types of armaments, hardware and spare parts from the West. However, NATO membership is no longer a vital necessity for Ankara.
The bloc will not help Turkey resolve a wide range of military and political issues the country is facing, such as relations with neighboring Greece and the situation with oil and gas offshore reserves in Israel nearby the Eastern Mediterranean.
RT. com / ABC Flash Point News 2019.