January 10, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - A certain silence which had reigned over the US Incirlik air base in the Turkish city of Adana for the past 3 years came to a close today.
After an absence of 3 years, sixteen US F-16 block 50s landed at Incirlik yesterday, reinforced also by an early warning system AWACS airplane, as well as tanker airplanes meant for mid-air fuel replenishing.
Twelve of the jets belong to the 22nd FS
"Stingers", four from the 23 FS "Fighting Hawks". Both squadrons are part of the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem AFB
The US F-16CJs began flight training runs in Adana this morning, although authorities did not comment on whether the jets will be staying at Adana for a long duration or only temporarily.
The Incirlik Air Base (İncirlik Hava Üssü) is located in İncirlik (meaning fig orchard), 12 km east of Adana, Turkey
's fifth largest city, and 56 km from the Mediterranean Sea. It is currently home to 10 U.S. refueling aircraft used to support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq
. There are approximately 1,400 U.S. airmen at the base.
The airbase has one 10,000-foot (~3,050 m) and an alternate 9,000-foot (~2,740 m) runway, both sitting amidst 57 hardened aircraft shelters.
Throughout events such as the stand-up of NATO
units and arms embargoes between Turkey and America , Incirlik has been a mainstay in Adana. The base was a key contributor in the Gulf War era serving as a hub for operations such as Operations Quick Transit, Provide Comfort and Northern Watch. Later it supported Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom.
Turkey's Cabinet recently approved a long-standing U.S. request to allow the American military to fly more supplies into Iraq and Afghanistan from a strategic air base in southern Turkey.