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Warplane at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey
Warplane at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey
Sedat Ergin

ISTANBUL — One of the more prestigious duties for the pilots of the Turkish Air Forces during the Cold War years was the "nuclear watch." The four main air bases in Turkey had been housing U.S. nuclear warheads since the beginning of the 1960's. The nuclear class planes piloted by Turks were assigned to drop the warheads on certain Warsaw Pact countries in case NATO would decide to do so.

The main jet bases of Eskişehir, Balıkesir, Ankara Mürted (Akıncı) and Malatya Erhaç had a nuclear capacity fleet (first the F-100s, then the F-104s and then the F-4s) assigned to it. The nuclear watch required that, around the clock, four pilots from each fleet be ready to immediately take off with nuclear weapons if necessary.

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