Wednesday, November 11, 2015 by usafeaturesmedia
(NationalSecurity.news) In recent days the Obama administration ordered eight F-15C fighter planes to a NATO airbase at Incirlik, Turkey, to join a contingent of A-10 Warthogs already operating there.
To understand the gravity of this deployment, one must first understand the nature of the aircraft.
While a number of American fighter planes currently in service are multi-role – that is, they are used in air-to-air combat and in support of ground troops – the F-15C is not one of those aircraft. It can’t drop bombs; it’s purely a dogfighter.
So, given the Pentagon’s statement, according to the UK Daily Mail, that it intends to “thicken” its presence on the Syria/Turkey border (Turkey is a NATO ally), and given that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has no air force – who are the F-15C’s meant to deter?
There can be only one answer: Russian warplanes.
As NationalSecurity.news has reported, U.S. and Russian officials agreed weeks ago to urgent talks aimed at heading off disaster either on the ground in Syria or over Syrian skies, as Moscow and Washington pursue different goals in the war-torn country. The U.S. wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down; Russia has deployed its forces there to protect his regime.
Since then, however, the situation has become increasingly tense, with Saudi Arabian clerics declaring jihad on Russian forces in Syria, and the British government giving its pilots authorization to shoot down any Russian aircraft they believe are threatening or endangering them.
Now, it appears as though the Obama administration – which recently authorized more boots on the ground in Syria – has further enhanced U.S. capabilities in the region with the F-15Cs, designed only to carry air-to-air ordnance.
And, as The Daily Beast notes, since the planes have no real ground support role, there are only a small number of possibilities as to why the Pentagon is deploying them now. Laura Seal, a Defense Department spokeswoman, told the online news site that the F-15s were being deployed to “ensure the safety” of NATO allies.
“That could mean that the single-seat F-15s and the eight air-to-air missiles they routinely carry will help the Turkish air force patrol Turkey’s border with Syria, intercepting Syrian planes and helicopters that periodically stray into Turkish territory,” The Daily Beast reported.
“But more likely, the F-15s will be escorting attack planes and bombers as they strike ISIS militants in close proximity to Syrian regime forces and the Russian warplanes that, since early October, have bombed ISIS and U.S.-backed rebels fighting the Syrian troops.”
It’s worth noting that the single-seat F-15Cs have never deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq; only aircraft carrying air-to-ground ordnance were used in those theaters. But clearly, the Syrian war is different.
The Washington Times notes that Moscow has deployed Su-30 fighters to Syria – planes that are also primarily designed as dogfighters – to a newly constructed base near Laktakia.
The U.S. has not said it would enforce a no-fly zone over northern Syria, in order to protect the Syrian/Turkish border area as well as U.S.-backed rebels fighting in that region.
Russian and U.S. forces in the region do steer their jets away from each other to avoid confrontation thus far, but otherwise they have not been coordinating missions in Syria.