Turkey has informed Nato that a Russian aircraft entered their airspace on Saturday. Moscow has responded to the incursion stating it was a “navigational error” and that they had “clarified” their position to the Turkish government.
Nato Secretary General Jen Stoltenberg also denounced the action as “unacceptable” and claimed that “Russia’s actions are not contributing to the security and stability of the region”
Another unidentified plane reportedly “harassed” Turkish F-16s patrolling the country’s southern border.
Russia has carried out over 100 air strikes in aid of the Assad regime since the beginning of October, a move criticised by Ankara as a “grave mistake”. Although Russian air strikes are intended to be targeting ISIL it has been noted that the majority of targets are in rebel held areas of Syria with “little or no” Islamic State presence.
The Turkish Air Force operates a combined fleet of around 240 F-16 Block C and Block D.
Turkey used its F-16s extensively in its conflict with separatist Kurds in Kurdish parts of Turkey and Iraq. Turkey launched its first cross-border raid on 16 December 2007, a prelude to the 2008 Turkish incursion into northern Iraq, involving 50 fighters.
The aircraft are tasked with protecting Turkey’s 500mi border with Syria, after the RF-4 downing in June 2012 Turkey changed its rules of engagements against Syrian aircraft, resulting in scrambles and downings of Syrian combat aircraft.