Incirlik Air Base History

U.S. Army Spc. Charles Chesbro and U.S. Army Sgt. Zachary Perez, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Patriot launcher maintainers from Fort Sill, Okla., complete a checklist for Patriot launching station Feb. 28, 2013, near Gaziantep, Turkey. Patriots are deployed to Turkey as part of a precautionary defensive measure undertaken in accordance with NATO’s standing defense plan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Phelps/Released)

U.S. Army Spc. Charles Chesbro and U.S. Army Sgt. Zachary Perez, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Patriot launcher maintainers from Fort Sill, Okla., complete a checklist for Patriot launching station Feb. 28, 2013, near Gaziantep, Turkey. Patriots are deployed to Turkey as part of a precautionary defensive measure undertaken in accordance with NATO’s standing defense plan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Phelps/Released)

A Turkish air force UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is loaded onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III May 1, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. A C-17 aircrew from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., transported the helicopter to Kabul, Afghanistan, May 5, 2012. The joint support mission provided smooth delivery of the helicopter to replace one that crashed December 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

A Turkish air force UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter is loaded onto a U.S. Air Force C-17 Globemaster III May 1, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. A C-17 aircrew from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., transported the helicopter to Kabul, Afghanistan, May 5, 2012. The joint support mission provided smooth delivery of the helicopter to replace one that crashed December 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia, Ted Poe of Texas and Rob Wittman of Virginia, get a picture with Dutch army soldiers Jan. 30, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The three congressional delegates visited Incirlik to view the Patriot missile sites and met with NATO service members supporting the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson of Georgia, Ted Poe of Texas and Rob Wittman of Virginia, get a picture with Dutch army soldiers Jan. 30, 2013, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The three congressional delegates visited Incirlik to view the Patriot missile sites and met with NATO service members supporting the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery unit, Fort Sill, Okla., raise a Patriot missile battery before loading it onto a transport Jan. 30, 2013 at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The Patriot missile batteries have increased the work load and responsibilities of numerous squadrons at Incirlik. Squadrons such as security forces, contracting and maintenance have aided in the continued success of the Patriot mission, thus increasing the safety and security of the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Soldiers from the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery unit, Fort Sill, Okla., raise a Patriot missile battery before loading it onto a transport Jan. 30, 2013 at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The Patriot missile batteries have increased the work load and responsibilities of numerous squadrons at Incirlik. Squadrons such as security forces, contracting and maintenance have aided in the continued success of the Patriot mission, thus increasing the safety and security of the region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 728th Air Mobility Squadron prepare to offload a pair of Patriot missile battery fire control centers Jan. 5, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Two Patriot missile batteries from the United States are deploying to Turkey to support NATO's commitment to Turkey's security. The batteries will augment Turkey's air defense capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 728th Air Mobility Squadron prepare to offload a pair of Patriot missile battery fire control centers Jan. 5, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Two Patriot missile batteries from the United States are deploying to Turkey to support NATO's commitment to Turkey's security. The batteries will augment Turkey's air defense capabilities. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaks with Col. Chris Craige, 39th Air Base Wing commander, during a visit Dec. 14, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Panetta stopped at Incirlik to remind Airmen of the importance of their mission here. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta speaks with Col. Chris Craige, 39th Air Base Wing commander, during a visit Dec. 14, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Panetta stopped at Incirlik to remind Airmen of the importance of their mission here. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Clayton Lenhardt/Released)

An MQ-1B Predator from the 414th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron sits on the flightline Feb. 14, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Reactivated Nov. 23, 2011, the 414th ERS dates back to World War II when it was known as the 414th Bombardment Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

An MQ-1B Predator from the 414th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron sits on the flightline Feb. 14, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Reactivated Nov. 23, 2011, the 414th ERS dates back to World War II when it was known as the 414th Bombardment Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Anthony Sanchelli/Released)

Senior Airman Kevin Kloss, of the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, finishes refueling Qatari aircraft in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn March 25, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.  Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorized all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces. JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Senior Airman Kevin Kloss, of the 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron, finishes refueling Qatari aircraft in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn March 25, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Joint Task Force Odyssey Dawn is the U.S. Africa Command task force established to provide operational and tactical command and control of U.S. military forces supporting the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973. UNSCR 1973 authorized all necessary measures to protect civilians in Libya under threat of attack by Qadhafi regime forces. JTF Odyssey Dawn is commanded by U.S. Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear, III. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Alexandre Montes)

Aircrew and maintainers from the 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepare a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft for a flight July 20, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The 90th EARS, a total-force team consisting of nearly 100 active-duty, Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen, conducts air-to-air refuels to C-17 Globemaster IIIs and C-5 Galaxies coming in and out of the area of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael B. Keller/Released)

Aircrew and maintainers from the 90th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepare a KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft for a flight July 20, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The 90th EARS, a total-force team consisting of nearly 100 active-duty, Reserve and Air National Guard Airmen, conducts air-to-air refuels to C-17 Globemaster IIIs and C-5 Galaxies coming in and out of the area of operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael B. Keller/Released)

Airmen spread out around the flightline to begin a foreign-object-debris walk to remove trash and other objects from the area May 29, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The FOD walk was a combined effort between the 39th Air Base Wing and Turkish air force 10th Tanker Base Command to clear the area of  debris that could potentially damage aircraft engines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marissa Tucker/Released)
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Airmen spread out around the flightline to begin a foreign-object-debris walk to remove trash and other objects from the area May 29, 2012, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The FOD walk was a combined effort between the 39th Air Base Wing and Turkish air force 10th Tanker Base Command to clear the area of debris that could potentially damage aircraft engines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marissa Tucker/Released)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Two F-16CJ Fighting Falcons from the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxi here for the last time April 7.  The fighters are returning home to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., after supporting Operation Northern Watch for several years.  Aircraft flew their last ONW mission March 17.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Thompson)
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INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- Two F-16CJ Fighting Falcons from the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxi here for the last time April 7. The fighters are returning home to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., after supporting Operation Northern Watch for several years. Aircraft flew their last ONW mission March 17. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Thompson)

OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH -- An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron applies its speed brake upon touchdown after returning safely to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 14, following a routine enforcement mission in support of Operation Northern Watch. The Strike Eagle was part of a defensive strike on an Iraqi surface-to air-missile system in northern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vincent Parker)
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OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH -- An F-15E Strike Eagle from the 494th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron applies its speed brake upon touchdown after returning safely to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Jan. 14, following a routine enforcement mission in support of Operation Northern Watch. The Strike Eagle was part of a defensive strike on an Iraqi surface-to air-missile system in northern Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vincent Parker)

OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH -- Armament technician Senior Airman Hector Huguet of the 23rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron checks a missile on an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon before takeoff from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, as part of Operation Northern Watch. The operation involves patrolling the northern no-fly zones of Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vincent A. Parker)
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OPERATION NORTHERN WATCH -- Armament technician Senior Airman Hector Huguet of the 23rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron checks a missile on an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon before takeoff from Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, as part of Operation Northern Watch. The operation involves patrolling the northern no-fly zones of Iraq. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Vincent A. Parker)

Technical Sgt. Paul Oxford, a reservist deployed from Travis AFB, Calif., moves another pallet of supplies a little closer to the warfighters in Iraq. Deployed through the holidays, the ramp services supervisor at Incirlik AB adds to the unit's total of about 86,800 tons of cargo sent down range since June 1.
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Technical Sgt. Paul Oxford, a reservist deployed from Travis AFB, Calif., moves another pallet of supplies a little closer to the warfighters in Iraq. Deployed through the holidays, the ramp services supervisor at Incirlik AB adds to the unit's total of about 86,800 tons of cargo sent down range since June 1.

Chaplain (Maj.) Kenneth Reyes,39th Air Base Wing senior chaplain, helps unload displaced American citizen’s from Lebanon Monday. Incirlik received more than 1,700 departing American’s July 22.
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Chaplain (Maj.) Kenneth Reyes,39th Air Base Wing senior chaplain, helps unload displaced American citizen’s from Lebanon Monday. Incirlik received more than 1,700 departing American’s July 22.


The U.S. Engineering Group began construction of the base located approximately 250 miles southeast of Ankara, Turkey, in the spring of 1951. The U.S. Air Force initially planned to use the base as an emergency staging and recovery site for medium and heavy bombers. The Turkish General Staff and the U.S. Air Force signed a joint use agreement for the new base in December 1954.

February 21, 1955, the base was officially named Adana Air Base, with the 7216th Air Base Squadron as host unit. The following years would prove the value of Incirlik's location, not only in countering the Soviet threat, but also in responding to crises in the Middle East. Project 119L, a U.S. Air Force meteorological balloon launching activity, conducted operations at Adana AB in 1955. Following balloon operations, pilots began flying U-2 reconnaissance missions as part of Operation Overflight. Renamed Incirlik Air Base Feb. 28, 1958, the base was the main U-2 operating location until May 1960, when Francis Gary Powers' U-2 aircraft succumbed to a volley of Soviet surface-to-air missiles over Sverdlovsk.

The Lebanon crisis exploded in the summer of 1958, prompting President Eisenhower to order the deployment of Tactical Air Command's Composite Strike Force Bravo from the United States to Incirlik.

The strike force consisted of F-100s, B-57s, RF-101s, RB-66s, F-86Ds and WB-66s. These aircraft and supporting personnel overwhelmed Incirlik's facilities and aircraft parking aprons. Incirlik also supported cargo and transport aircraft in deploying an Army battalion from Germany to Lebanon. Because no fighting involving U.S. Forces on the ground in Lebanon occurred, the Incirlik-based strike force flew air missions to cover troop movements, executed show-of-force missions over Beirut, as well as accomplished aerial reconnaissance sorties and leaflet drops.

After the Lebanon crisis, TAC deployed F-100 fighter squadrons on 100-day rotations to Incirlik from the United States.

As part of an effort to bring units with combat history into the theater, U.S. Air Forces in Europe inactivated Incirlik's 7216th, which had become an air base group, and activated the 39th Tactical Group at Incirlik April 1, 1966. The group assumed control of permanent support units in place at Incirlik. During the 1960s, Incirlik hosted 16th AF and USAFE rotational squadrons training deployments and maintained a NATO alert capability.

The flying mission at Incirlik further diversified in 1970 when the Turkish Air Force agreed to allow USAFE to use its air-to-ground range at Konya, providing a suitable training area for U.S. squadrons deployed to Incirlik. These units also conducted training at Incirlik's offshore air-to-air range. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, except during the Cyprus crisis, many types of aircraft including F-4s, F-15s, F-16s, F-111s and A-10s deployed to Incirlik. In mid-1975, the Turkish government announced all U.S. bases in Turkey would close and transfer control to the Turkish military. This action was in response to an arms embargo the U.S. Congress imposed on Turkey for using U.S.-supplied equipment during the Cyprus conflict. Only Incirlik AB and Izmir Air Station remained open due to their NATO missions; however all non-NATO activities at these locations.

The U.S. Congress lifted the arms embargo in September 1978 and restored military assistance to Turkey. Normal operations at Incirlik resumed after the United States and Turkey signed a Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement March 29, 1980.

After signing the DECA, USAFE initiated the Turkey catch-up plan to improve quality of life at the base. Major construction projects included new base housing as well as a state-of-the art hospital complex.

After Iraq's 1990 invasion of neighboring Kuwait, the 7440th Composite Wing (provisional) assumed operational control of the 39th Tactical Group. The 7440th was the air component of Joint Task Force Proven Force which eventually controlled 140 aircraft and opened a northern front. This aerial northern front forced Iraq to split its air defenses between the north and the south where the main thrust of coalition attacks originated as part of Operation Desert Storm. Following the war, Incirlik hosted Combined Task Force Provide Comfort (I, II and III) in its mission to provide humanitarian relief and protect Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq.

The 39th TACG was redesignated as the 39th Air Base Wing on Oct. 1, 1993 and restructured as a standard U.S. Air Force objective wing.

The U.S. State Department's Operation Quick Transit evacuated thousands of Kurds from northern Iraq in late 1996. The wing provided logistical support in Turkey for this operation, which signaled the end of the humanitarian aspect of Operation Provide Comfort III. Dec. 31, 1996. In its place, Operation Northern Watch stood up Jan. 1, 1997. ONW enforced the U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone for Iraqi aircraft and helicopters north of the Iraq's 36th parallel.

The 39th Air and Space Expeditionary Wing was activated at Incirlik AB Sept. 15, 1997, to support and command U.S. Air Force assets deployed to Incirlik supporting ONW. Incirlik's tent city, Hodja Village, quickly became the Air Force's largest during this timeframe.

Incirlik has always served as a hub for U.S. support to the Turkish government in the wake of disasters and humanitarian emergencies. For instance, Incirlik served as a critical hub for a virtual armada of U.S. aircraft delivering supplies in the wake of the Van earthquake in November 1976. In 1998, Incirlik again served as an aerial relief hub, as well as deploying a Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team (made up of 39th Wing personnel) in the wake of back to back earthquakes near Istanbul in August and Nov. 1999.

In response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom began in October 2001. Incirlik served as a main hub of humanitarian airlift operations to Afghanistan, MC-130 special operations missions, KC-135 refueling missions and sustainment operations for deployed forces. The aerial port managed a 600 percent increase in airflow during the early stages of OEF. When U.S. contingency airbases were constructed in Afghanistan and Uzbekistan, Incirlik's airflow supporting OEF decreased to a baseline sustainment level. With the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom March 19, 2003, ONW ended. Incirlik's last ONW patrol returned to base March 17, 2003. This flight terminated a successful 12-year mission to contain Iraq militarily. The 39th ASEW inactivated effective May 1, 2003.

The 39th Wing was inactivated and the 39th Air Base Group was activated, effective July 16, 2003.

Aug. 19, 2003, the first rotation of deployed KC-135 Stratotankers and Airmen arrived at Incirlik to support Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

Jan. 6, 2004, more than 300 soldiers of what would become thousands transited through Incirlik as the first stop back to their home post in the U.S. after spending almost a year in Iraq. Incirlik was part of what was then described as the largest troop movement in U.S. history. Incirlik provided soldiers with a cot, warm location, entertainment and food for their first few hours outside of a hostile war zone.

March 12, 2004, the 39th Air Base Group deactivated, and the 39th Air Base Wing activated to provide the best mix of required support in the Global War on Terror.

June 1, 2005, Incirlik activated one of the Air Force's largest C-17 Globemaster cargo hub operations in support of OEF and OIF. Hub operations deliver much-needed supplies such as add-on armor, tires, engines and more to U.S. Forces in theater via the 385th Air Expeditionary Group, a tenant unit at Incirlik.

Oct. 18, 2005, Incirlik served as an air-bridge for the Pakistan Earthquake Relief Effort. Seven countries participated in the NATO-UNCHR humanitarian operation. Over 100 trucks offloaded supplies at Incirlik that were transported in over 130 airlift missions which delivered 1,647 tons of supplies including heating oil, food and blankets.

From 21 to 28 July, 2006, Incirlik helped support more than 1,700 displaced American citizens from Lebanon in the wake of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Incirlik Airmen readied Patriot Village, which provided housing, telephone access, a 24-hour BX/Shopette, a children's play area, chaplain's assistance and medical services for people transitioning back to the U.S.

Incirlik and the 39th ABW continue to supply equipment and supplies in the GWOT - as of 2008, Incirlik aerial hub operations moved 18percent of AMC's cargo and provided 57 percent of sustainment cargo for OEF and OIF.



Honors
The 39th Air Base Wing earned the following honors, which it proudly displays on its flag:

World War II American Theater Service Streamer
WW II Western Pacific
WW II Air Offensive Japan
Two Distinguished Unit Citations
Twelve Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards

Official Air Force 39th ABW Lineage and Honors

(Current as of September 2011)