Fighter planes the Obama administration is deploying to Turkey can't drop bombs – so are they meant for dogfights with the Russians?
- Pentagon shipping up to a dozen F-15C jets that can only fire air-to-air missiles
- ISIS has no fighter planes, meaning the planes' real target may be Russian jets that are operating over Turkey and Syria
- Defense Department: US 'thickening' its presence in the skies over the Turkey-Syria border
3 November 2015
The Obama administration is sending a group of fighter planes to Turkey equipped with air-to-air missiles, raising concerns that the jets are really intended to battle Russian planes.
The Pentagon plans to ship up to a dozen Boeing F-15C Eagle twin-engine planes to a base in Incirlik which the Turkish government has allowed the U.S. to use in its effort against the Islamic State.
The base is near the country's border with Syria.
But since the F-15C has no air-to-ground capability, their real mission may be to protect other U.S. warplanes from those of Russia or Syria, according to The Daily Beast.
The spokeswoman, Laura Seal, added, 'I didn't say it wasn't about Russia.'
Other possible tasks for the warplanes could be patrolling the Turkish border with Syria, as Syrian planes sometimes cross into Turkey. Or they could be used to protect U.S. planes with air-to-ground missiles that are striking ISIS targets.
Russia has been operating fighter patrols in Syria for about a month, but Defense officials believe they are intended to battle the anti-Syrian rebels which the U.S. is supporting.
Russian President Vladimir Putin told President Obama in late September at the United Nations in New York that he doesn't distinguish between ISIS forces and the rebels seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
That includes jets such as the F-16 and bombers like the A-10 and B-1s.
The Defense official cautioned, however, that there are still no definite plans to establish a 'no-fly zone over Syria, which would be complicated now anyway with Russia's presence.
Aerial-only fighter planes haven't been used in the most recent U.S. military operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, as there were no no-fly zones or air-to-air needs in those countries. Rather, the U.S. air forces were focused on bombing and striking militants on the ground..