Four Tornado jets set off from Germany on Tuesday, bound for Turkey’s Incirlik air base from where they will carry out surveillance missions over Syria and Iraq, Germany’s armed forces said.
Two planes left Jagel air base in northern Germany while another pair took off from Buchel, close to the border with Luxembourg, the Bundeswehr said in a statement on its website.
The aircraft will be joined by two other Tornados at Incirlik, near the southern city of Adana, next week.
“With the two other Tornado jets expected to arrive in Turkey on Jan. 12, a total of six aircraft will be ready for the surveillance mission,” the statement said.
Luftwaffe Brig. Gen. Andreas Schick, commander of German forces at Incirlik, said flights would begin as early as Friday. “Our goal is to reach full operational capability in mid-January,” he said.
Around 210 German personnel are currently stationed at Incirlik, where they are allegedly supporting the air campaign against the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group. The mission involves six high-tech surveillance jets and an air-to-air tanker, which was deployed to Incirlik last month and has carried out 18 flights in support of coalition warplanes.
Last month, Germany’s parliament approved increased support for the anti-ISIL coalition following a request from the French government in the wake of the Paris attacks but ruled out a combat role for German forces.
The deployment also includes a frigate supporting French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.