Turkish F-16’s have reportedly shot down a Russian Su-24 (pictured) this morning near the Syrian border after it violated Turkish airspace.
Turkey shot down the jet after it failed to heed the warnings within the rules of engagement while Russia are claiming it crashed due to gunfire.
The jet crashed into tents in Latakia’s Yamadi village near the Syrian border, according to local media. Two pilots were seen landing with the aid of parachutes, reports claim.
Russia maintains that the Su-24 crashed in Syria not Turkey and due to gunfire from the ground however footage posted by the state-run Anatolia news agency showed plumes of smoke rising behind a mountain a few kilometres inside the Turkish border.
The Russian Defence Ministry is quoted as saying:
“The plane was at an altitude of 6000 meters. The fate of the pilots to be confirmed. The flight was over the territory of Syria.”
Russian fighter jets entered Turkish air space in two separate incidents in October, prompting Ankara to summon the Russian ambassador twice to protest both violations.
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.
Russia has carried out hundreds of 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 Islamic State it has been noted that the majority of targets are in rebel held areas of Syria with “little or no” Islamic State presence.
More on this as it develops.