U.S. Brings Dogfighters to Counter Russians Over
The Pentagon is sending F-15Cs—supposedly to fight the ISIS war. But
the jets only have air-to-air weapons, and ISIS has no planes. Which
means the real adversary is Russia.
By David Axe
November 06, 2015 "Information
Clearing House" - "Daily
The U.S. Air Force is deploying to Turkey up to a dozen jet fighters
specializing in air-to-air combat—apparently to help protect other
U.S. and allied jets from Russia’s own warplanes flying over Syria.
Officially, the deployment of F-15C Eagle twin-engine fighters to
Incirlik, Turkey—which the Pentagon announced late last week—is
meant to “ensure the safety” of America’s NATO allies, Laura Seal, a
Defense Department spokesperson,
told The Daily Beast.
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.
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.
Seal declined to discuss the deployment in detail, but hinted at
its true purpose. “I didn’t say it wasn’t about Russia,” she said.
Russia’s air wing in western Syria is notable for including
several Su-30 fighters that are primarily air-to-air fighters. 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.
The F-15s the U.S. Air Force is sending to Turkey will be the
first American warplanes in the region that are strictly aerial
fighters. The other fighters, attack planes and bombers the Pentagon
F-22s, F-16s, A-10s and B-1s—carry bombs and air-to-ground
missiles and have focused on striking militants on the ground.
In stark contrast, the F-15s only carry air-to-air weaponry, and
their pilots train exclusively for shooting down enemy warplanes.
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. 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
Incirlik and its growing
contingent of warplanes is the key to a new northern strategy in the
U.S. campaign against ISIS, an unnamed Pentagon official said 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.”
“That means we want a greater density of planes
striking. We need a greater density of intelligence assets
developing targets. You—the White House announced A-10s, which are
already on the ground at Incirlik, and F-15s forthcoming on—in
Incirlik, to help in the counter-ISIL campaign,” the official added,
using another acronym for ISIS.
But the Pentagon has not said it will enforce a
no-fly zone over northern Syria in order to protect pro-U.S. rebels
from Syrian—and Russian—warplanes. “It is something obviously, you
know has been in the conversation, and has been in the discussion,
but today’s announcements are not keyed any way to the beginning or
start of a no-fly zone,” the unnamed official said
Such a zone could compel F-15s and other U.S.
planes to directly confront Russian planes, even though—in
theory—both air forces are attacking ISIS. Russia and the United
States do make efforts to steer their jets away away from possible
collisions, but otherwise do not collaborate in their separate air
wars in Syria.
Instead, American and Russian pilots and air
controllers keep wary eyes on each other as they conduct independent
and occasionally conflicting bombing raids. “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 of Moscow’s military
And now the United States will have fighter jets
in Syria whose main job could be to watch out for Russians.
See also -
US deploys 6 F-15 jets to Turkish air base:
The deployment of the air-to-air combat planes comes after two
Russian warplanes, active in Syria, strayed into Turkish airspace
last month, triggering strong condemnations from Turkey and its NATO
allies. The deployment sends a message of NATO's resolve to protect