In addition to the Tornado jets, an Airbus A310 MRTT has been stationed at the Incirlik Air Base since mid-December. It is used for air-to-air refuelling.
On 4 January 2016, A German Air Force (Luftwaffe) plane from Hamburg flew in additional personnel for the contingent deployed in Turkey. The German troops stationed there include pilots, technicians, ground staff and specialists. They are to evaluate the images obtained during the reconnaissance flights. The plans are to station up to 250 German soldiers in Incirlik.
Tornado jets for reconnaissance
Since 2009 the German air force has used the "RecceLite" (Reconnaissance Litening Pod) digital reconnaissance system, which is mounted in a pod below the two-seater swing-wing Tornado. The "RecceLite" system produces a significantly better images and better evaluation options.
Real-time transmission of surveillance data to the ground station during the flight is possible. "RecceLite" can gather high resolution digital images by day or night, with the help of infrared and optical sensors while flying at low or medium altitudes.
Airbus A310 MRTT – a flying tanker
Alongside the reconnaissance jets, the German air force is also operating an Airbus A310 in an air-to-air refuelling role. This multi-role aircraft can be converted for use as a passenger or cargo plane, as a medical evacuation plane, or for air-to-air refuelling.
When the aircraft is used for refuelling, four additional centre fuel tanks are fitted along with hose and drogue pods weighing about 600 kg under the outer wings. For refuelling, a 22m-long hose stowed in the pods is extended and used with a refuelling basket or drogue. The aircraft to be refuelled inserts its probe in the basket or drogue. Up to 1,600 litres fuel can be transferred per minute.
Bundestag votes to approve mission
Following the terrorist attacks on 13 November, the German Bundestag voted on 4 December 2015 by a large majority to approve the deployment of the Bundeswehr in the fight against the so-called IS. Up to 1,200 Bundeswehr soldiers are to support the international alliance against the terrorist organisation.
In addition to the troops stationed in Incirlik, a German frigate has been escorting the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle since 6 December 2015. France is flying airstrikes against the terrorist organisation IS from the aircraft carrier.
The mission is to support France, Iraq and the international alliance in the fight against IS on the legal basis of the right to collective self-defence laid out in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations and in conjunction with United Nations Security Council resolutions 2170 (2014), 2199 (2015) and 2249 (2015).
Support for France is also provided as part of Germany’s obligations under the mutual defence clause (Article 42(7)) of the Treaty on the European Union. Troops and equipment will be deployed within the framework and in line with the rules of a system of mutual collective security as laid out in Article 24(2) of the German Basic Law or constitution.