German military to invest at Incirlik, Der Spiegel claims

In an about-turn, Germany plans to invest millions at the Incirlik NATO airbase in Turkey, according to “Der Spiegel” magazine. Planned are new German facilities for the international anti-IS mission in Syria and Iraq, Deutsche Welle reports.

“Der Spiegel” on Tuesday said defense ministry states secretary Gerd Hoofe had budgeted 58 million euros ($63 million) for a new runway and a portable command center at the key airbase near Syria’s northern border.

Particularly center-left Social Democrats (SPD) in Germany’s federal parliament, which has an ultimate say over German Bundeswehr deployments, had until a week ago demanded that the German mission should be ended because of Turkish strictures.

Since June, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has banned visits by German parliamentarians to Incirlik in reaction to a Bundestag resolution in May that declared 1915 massacres of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish forces to have been a genocide.

“Der Spiegel” said the German Bundeswehr wanted the investment urgently because since the mission started early this year its some 240 personnel have had to park its Tornado surveillance jets at US sites at Incirlik, sleep in provisional quarters – called the “Patriot Village” located near noisy runways – and depend on allies for technical support.

Of 58 million euros, 26 million would fund the laying a new airfield for the Tornados and appropriate Bundeswehr accommodation for soldiers. A further 30 million euros, awaiting budgetary clearance, would be spent to erect a command center. For this, foundations will be necessary, costing a further two million.

A defense ministry spokesman added that the transportable command center, comprising sophisticated equipment fitted inside large containers, was a useful purchase anyway, independent of Incirlik.

Currently, stationed at Incirlik are six Bundeswehr Tornados and an Airbus A310 MRTT used for mid-air to refuel the jets. Bundeswehr ground crews make repairs in daytime temperatures well over 30 degrees Centigrade.
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