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Pentagon on Deploying Dogfighters to Turkey: ‘I Didn’t Say It Wasn’t About Russia’

The Pentagon is deploying to Turkey up to a dozen F-15Cs, specializing in air-to-air combat, allegedly to combat the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), which has no aerial fighters.

That “means the real adversary is Russia,” declares the Daily Beast.

The U.S. Air Force is sending the dogfighters to Turkey “apparently to help protect other U.S. and allied jets from Russia’s own warplanes flying over Syria,” it adds.

Laura Seal, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told the Daily Beast that the deployment of F-15C Eagle twin-engine fighters to Incirlik, Turkey, is officially meant to “ensure the safety” of U.S. NATO partners.

The Pentagon announced the move late last week, according to the Military Times.

Although Seal declined to discuss the deployment in detail, she hinted at its true intention, saying, “I didn’t say it wasn’t about Russia,” explains the Daily Beast.

The purpose of deploying the single-seat F-15s and the eight air-to-air missiles they routinely carry could be to “help the Turkish air force patrol Turkey’s border with Syria, intercepting Syrian planes and helicopters that periodically stray into Turkish territory,” suggests the report.

“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 adds.

Russia has already deployed air-to-air fighters—Su-30 aircraft—to western Syria.

“The Su-30s’ arrival in Syria raised eyebrows, as Moscow insists its forces are only fighting ISIS, but ISIS has no aircraft of its own for the Su-30s to engage,” points out the Daily Beast.

The deployment of the F-15s to Turkey will mark the first time America sends warplanes to the region that are strictly aerial fighters.

So far, the Pentagon has only deployed attack planes and bombers to attack jihadists on the ground, including F-22s, F-16s, A-10s, and B-1s. Those fighters carry bombs and air-to-ground missiles.

“In stark contrast, the F-15s only carry air-to-air weaponry, and their pilots train exclusively for shooting down enemy warplanes,” acknowledges the Daily Beast. “It’s worth noting that F-15Cs have never deployed to Afghanistan, nor did they participate in the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq. The war in Syria is different.”

“The dogfighters are part of a broader escalation of the air war over Syria,” it adds. “In addition to jets in Jordan, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, and Navy and Marine planes aboard aircraft carriers, the U.S. Air Force recently added A-10 attack jets and rescue planes and helicopters at Incirlik in Turkey.”

The growing number of warplanes being deployed to Incirlik are the primary component of a new northern anti-ISIS effort by the United States, a Department of Defense (DOD) official told reporters on condition of anonymity on Oct. 30.

“One of the principal things we will do to put pressure in the border area and into Syria is, quote, ‘thicken’ air operations in northern Syria,” said the official.

“That means we want a greater density of planes striking. We need a greater density of intelligence assets developing targets…the White House announced A-10s, which are already on the ground at Incirlik, and F-15s forthcoming… in Incirlik, to help in the counter-ISIL campaign,” added the DOD official.

The U.S. and Russia have held discussions to prevent their jets from colliding as they conduct independent and sometimes conflicting bombing missions.

“They are keenly aware of what happens, as we are, over the skies of Syria, and coming in and out of Syria,” the Pentagon official said, referring to Russia’s military planners.

U.S. officials accuse Russia of intervening in Syria on behalf of dictator Bashar al-Assad. Moscow denies it, saying they are targeting ISIS.

A recent analysis of Russian Defense Ministry data shows the Kremlin’s air force has been primarily targeting anti-Assad rebels, including those who are supported by the United States.

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