Incirlik Air Base
The attempted coup in Turkey on 15 July 2016 resulted in unexpected national security concerns for the United States. The purportedly spontaneous uprising called into question the security of American hydrogen bombs currently stored in a Turkish airbase. Located in southeast Turkey, the Incirlik Airbase includes NATO’s largest nuclear weapons storage facility. The American embassy in Ankara issued an "Emergency Message for US Citizens,"on Saturday morning, cautioning that “local authorities are denying movements on and off of” Incirlik and that power had been cut. US Air Force planes stationed at the base were prohibited from taking off, and the airbase had to rely on backup generators for power. The threat level reached FPCON Delta, the highest alert, usually declared after a terrorist attack or if an attack is deemed imminent.
The base commander, General Bekir Ercan Van, along with nine other Turkish officers, was detained at Incirlik on Sunday for allegedly supporting the coup. American airbase flights have resumed, but power has not been restored.
Hans M. Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, claims that the Turkish airbase contains about fifty B-61 hydrogen bombs, more than a quarter of all the nuclear weapons in the NATO stockpile. What separates the B-61 from other weapons is its ability to adjust nuclear yield. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima, for example, had the impact of roughly fifteen kilotons of TNT. The adjustable yield of the bombs held at Incirlik can range 0.3 to 170 kilotons, making for a more versatile weapon.
Ankara opened the Incirlik Air Base to the anti-IS combat efforts, while at the same time beginning its own air campaign against Islamic State as well as the Kurdish separatist group, PKK. The US military said on August 09, 2015 it had deployed F-16 fighter jets to a Turkish air field, as coalition air strikes continue against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria.
Close to many of the world's potential trouble spots - Iraq, Armenia and Iran to name a few - Incirlik Air Base is an important base in NATO's Southern Region. As a prime staging location, Incirlik offers a 10,000-foot main runway and 9,000-foot alternate runway, both sitting amidst 57 hardened aircraft shelters. It also serves as a regional storage center for war reserve materiels - supplies and equipment used in combat operations.
Prior to September 11, 2001 the base's human element included nearly 1,400 US Air Force military members, more than 670 US and Turkish civilian employees, more than 2,000 family members, nearly 900 Turkish maintenance contractors, and approximately 1,700 people deployed to support ONW.
As of late 2002 it appeared that there were roughly 4,000 personnel stationed at Incirlik with less than half being assigned to ONW. Reports indicate that the breakdown of the coalition effort is that there 1,161 US, 215 British, 41 Turkish personnel at the facility.
Incirlik Air Base is located about 7.5 miles east of Adana. Adana, with a population of over one million, is the fourth largest city in Turkey, and is the heart of a rich agricultural region. Approximately one and one-half hour's drive to the west are beautiful Mediterranean beaches with good hotels. The Adana environs are rich in historical sites, and there are frequent sightseeing trips sponsored by various base groups.
Incirlik has a Base Exchange, commissary, food court, furniture store, hospital, dental clinic, and chapel. Pentagon Federal Credit Union provides a full range of services EXCEPT for cash transactions. The military finance office is available for check cashing and exchanging currency. Teachers should maintain a stateside checking account.
Civilians who arrived prior to fall 1999 were allowed to maintain off-base quarters. Base officials encourage all civilians to live on base, and many have volunteered to do so. Unfurnished housing off base is usually very adequate in size. Most school personnel live in relatively new high-rises. Loaner kits (beds, stove, pots and pans, and other basic items) are available for 90 days from the military. Appliances can be borrowed long-term. Personnel should bring all other household items.
The climate has four distinct seasons: the winter months are cool and rainy; spring is sunny and humid; summer is hot and humid; and the fall is moderately hot and humid.
"Tornado Town" sprung up in 1991 as home to Joint Task Force Proven Force personnel. Renamed "Hodja Village," the tents housed members deployed to Combined Task Force Northern Watch.
Immediately following the war, Incirlik proved invaluable during Operation Provide Comfort when it served as the hub of humanitarian relief efforts destined for Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq. Thousands of tons of supplies flowed through the base on their way to the refugees.
On Oct. 1, 1993, the 39 TACG became the 39th Wing, bringing it on line with reconfiguration of the Air Force. The change reflected the unit's growing mission of support for munitions storage sites and other US Air Force activities.
Major repair and replacement of the runway and taxiways came to completion in January 1995.
In January 1997, Operation Provide Comfort changed to Operation Northern Watch to more accurately describe the ongoing mission of enforcing the no-fly zone over northern Iraq.
In early 2004 Incirlik had a new role as a temporary "terminal" for U.S. soldiers traveling home after serving about a year in Iraq. The more than 300 soldiers who arrived 06 Janueary 2004 were the first of thousands transiting through Incirlik during the massive Army troop changeover. To prepare for the influx, in a little more than a week base workers converted an empty hangar into a reception center. It includes a shoppette, Turkish sandwich stand, flight kitchen serving boxed lunches, Turkish gift shop, mini library, chaplain's office, and morale center with phones and Internet access.
A new mission kicked off in mid-2005 with the arrival and departure of C-17 Globemaster IIIs carrying cargo to Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. The new mission, which works on a "hub and spoke" concept, calls for cargo to come into the base from Charleston Air Force Base, S. C., and be transferred to several locations in Iraq. The cargo hub mission moved to Incirlik from Rhein-Main Air Base, Germany, in an effort to conserve Air Force resources. It's a fuel and flying time issue. It is more efficient for the C-17 because the cargo is delivered closer to Iraq without going to Iraq itself. By moving it to Incirlik, it is possible to move more cargo with fewer planes.
The C-17s, based out of Charleston, rotated in and out every two weeks or so. Although initially the mission supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, it has the ability to expand to support Operation Enduring Freedom, which includes Afghanistan. The flight to Afghanistan takes only about 8 hr., but includes an inflight refueling over the Black Sea from US or Turkish tankers based at Incirlik. It's primarily general cargo. It is for sustaining operations in Iraq -- things like lubrication oil, parts for different things and a lot of add-on armor -- things people need to keep their mission going.
And while the cargo flying out of Incirlik kept the mission going, it also meant an increase of the support systems for the people who work on and with the aircraft stationed here, as well as an increase in aircrews and maintainers supporting the new operation. The aircrews are at Incirlink e for around two weeks at a time, and maintainers for anywhere between 30 and 120 days. More people on base means there is more workload to support.
Several 39th Services Squadron programs expanded to handle the extra workload. Most personnel are housed in main base lodging with a few in Turkish air force lodging. When those places are filled the remaining people are lodged in Tin City. Tin City is an area of prefabricated buildings that can hold a great number of people should the need arise.
Incirlik is located in the southeastern part of Turkey, located only a few minutes east of Adana, Turkey's fourth largest city. It is located 35 miles from the Mediterranean Sea. The area just off base is called Incirlik (pronounced Injurlik) Village. Expect to find cows, goats, and sheep crossing roads and streets. Hearing drums and gunshots (celebrating) during some of the Turkish holidays is not uncommon. There are many small shops, fresh fruit and vegetable markets, small restaurants, and a bakery or two that strictly sell Turkish bread. Area specialties include copper and brass, carpets, and jewelry. There are auto parts and paint shops in the village as well. In everything, please be careful where you shop. Look around first and compare prices and quality. You can purchase most of the basics of survival on the local economy. There are approzimately 15,000 people living in the Village, sometimes called the "Alley."
The overview of the Adana community (10-12 miles away) is generally a more modern, city-life type community. Many shops, as well as Pizza Hut and McDonalds are located in one large mall. There is also a Burger King in Adana. Because housing is not available at this time for Department of Defense Civilians and DoDDs teachers, as well as contractors, many American families choose to live in this community because of the new, larger apartments. See related subjects on Housing. There are two shopping centers, the METRO and Carrefour (opened winter 1997), similar to SAM'S in the States, although goods sold there are mostly Turkish.
Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister of Britain, the Warsaw Pact was signed and Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on an Alabama bus. The year was 1955, and as the United States Air Force opened the gates of what would soon be called Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, an American/Turkish relationship began.
The history of the base actually began four years earlier when the U.S. Engineering Group began construction of a runway in the spring of 1951. The Air Force originally wanted to use the base as an emergency staging and recovery site for medium and heavy bombers and the Turkish General Staff and U.S. Air Force signed a joint use agreement for it in 1954.
On Feb. 21, 1955, the base (originally named Adana Air Base) sported the 7216th Air Base Squadron as host U.S. unit, and changed the way the U.S. Air Force's presence in Europe and Asia was viewed by other countries.
Many people stationed at Incirlik AB today were not even a glimmer in their mother's eye in 1955. But the base caught the eye of other countries such as the Soviet Union. Incirlik was instrumental in responding to crises in the Middle East. In fact, Project 119L, a U.S. Air Force meteorological balloon launching activity, conducted special operations here in 1955. Following balloon operations, pilots began flying U-2 reconnaissance missions as part of Operation Overflight.
In 1958, the base was renamed "Incirlik" (meaning fig orchard) - the same year the Lebanon crisis occurred prompting the United States to order Tactical Air Command Composite Strike Force Bravo to deploy from America to Incirlik AB.
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.
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