Adana, Oct 22 () - U.S. Air Force has deployed 12 A-10 attack aircraft in Turkey’s south to support the coalition’s fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Department of Defense (DoD) confirmed on Oct. 22.
The A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft arrived at İncirlik Air Base in Turkey’s southern Adana province on Oct. 15, to support land operations against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
The DoD explained in a written statement that the A-10s replaced the F-16 aircraft, which had arrived in Turkey on a temporary mission on August 2015.
“Twelve A-10 Thunderbolt IIs have arrived at İncirlik Air Base with their personnel, equipment and support personnel to replace F-16 aircraft from the Aviano Base in Italy,” the statement read.
“As a NATO member and a U.S. ally, Turkey is an important partner in the coalition against ISIL and the use of Turkish bases in U.S. operations continues to strengthen us significantly” it added.
The A-10 Thunderbolt, dubbed “tank killer” was specially designed during the Cold War for close air support operations.
The deployment marks a reversal in U.S. policy as the head of Air Combat Command Gen. Michael Hostage overruled sending A-10s to Syria in 2014.
“I could not send an A-10 into Syria. I know they’d never come back” Hostage had said in an Air Force Association breakfast in July 2014.