The US Air Force is deploying up to a dozen of US F-15C Eagle fighter jets to Turkey. And although the Pentagon announced that the deployment is to ‘ensure the safety’ of America’s NATO allies, the move is seen by some as a counter to Russia’s airstrikes in Syria.
On October 30, an unnamed senior US defense official said that dozens of F-15C jets would join A-10 ground attack aircraft at the Incirlik Air Base in south Turkey. Around a dozen “tank killer” A-10s landed at Incirlik in mid-October.
“I didn’t say it wasn’t about Russia,” Laura Seal told The Daily Beast late Tuesday in a follow-up to comments describing the deployment as a way to “ensure the safety” of Turkish aircraft.
These F-15s will be the first American warplanes in the region that are strictly aerial fighters. The other fighters, attack planes and bombers the Pentagon has deployed—including F-22s, F-16s, A-10s and B-1s—carry bombs and air-to-ground missiles for striking militants on the ground.
“In stark contrast, the F-15s only carry air-to-air weaponry, and their pilots train exclusively for shooting down enemy warplanes. It’s worth noting that F-15Cs have never deployed to Afghanistan, nor have they participated in the US-led occupation of Iraq. The war in Syria is different,” The Daily Beast reported.
The publication contends that F-15Cs carrying air-to-air missiles and pilot training “exclusively for shooting down enemy warplanes” point to a different objective than the one originally stated.
The outlet speculated that the Eagles are likely to escort attack planes and bombers striking ISIL targets in close proximity to Syrian government forces backed with Russian aircraft. Their anticipated primary deployment is to escort Turkish patrol aircraft, “intercepting Syrian planes and helicopters that periodically stray into Turkish territory,” The Daily Beast said.
Russia has been conducting precision airstrikes against ISIL positions in Syria at the request of President Bashar Assad since September 30.
Since the beginning of the air campaign, Russian Aerospace Forces have destroyed over 2,000 terrorist positions. Several hundred militants have been killed, and dozens of command centers and depots have been destroyed in over 1,600 sorties, according to the Russian General Staff.