Tag Archives: Syrian Arab Air Force

"Turkish Phantom jet fighters [as the one shot down by Syria] routinely violate the Greek airspace." And get locked by SAM sites.

As what really happened on Jun. 22, when a Turkish Air Force RF-4E from Erhac was shot down by a Syrian Air Defense battery, after violating the Syrian airspace, remains a mystery, an interesting video seems to prove that Turkish Phantoms routinely violate the Greek airspace and get locked by the Greek artillery radars.

This is what the Keep Talking Greece blog affirms publishing the following interesting video allegedly showing a Turkish F-4 locked by a Greek SA-8 anti-aircraft system.

“It is almost a daily practice for the Greek artillery that its radars lock Turkish fighter jets as they illegally enter Greek airspace. However Greeks do not push the button….” says the blog.

Was the RF-4E shot down off Syria flying a mission to probe the Damascus air defense system similar to those flown (quite regularly) in the Aegean sea to probe the Greece’s air defenses?

Latest news about the Turkish F-4 shot down by Syria: still conflicting versions. New detail: rescue plane came under fire too.

According to the Turkish media outlet Hurriyet Daily News, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has shown photos of two pairs of boots that belonged to the two missing pilots on board the RF-4E shot down by Syria on Jun. 22.

Erdogan had called a meeting with his political opposition leaders to discuss the situation and it was during this meeting that the photograph was shown.

It’s at least unusual to find two pairs of boots but not any potential bodies or remains, unless the pilots Capt. Gokhan Ertan and Lt. Huseyin Aksoy removed the boots once they took to their life raft. Anyway, too much time has passed since they ejected and the probability to find them alive, after so many days is extremely low.

In other developments, Hurriyet also ran an article  stating that Syrian officials knew that the jet that was Turkish. Turkish intelligence units say they have recordings of the Syrian forces referring to the jet by the word ‘Komsu’ which is Turkish for “Neighbor” followed by the Arabic word for plane.

The intel agents also went on to state that the F-4 had its IFF (identification, friend or foe) system switched on meaning that it would have been picked up by the radar stations (even the Syrian ones – this is normal, for “normal flights”; it’s unusual for covert missions that don’t fly with a switched on transponder in order to not “advertise” their position to radars).

This would seem to indicate that Turkey is monitoring Syrian government forces very closely, by recording their radio “chatter” and it could be argued performing aerial reconnaissance of the area.

On the other side Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported that the jet had been shot down using anti-aircraft artillery with only a range of 2.5 km (although other media outlets reported the maximum range declared by Damascus as 1.2 km). This would indicate that the jet was a lot closer to the coastline than what Turkey had admitted to.

However, Ankara insists the Phantom was shot down by a Surface to Air Missile, that hit the RF-4E as it was 13 nautical miles off the Syrian coast (hence, in international airspace). The report of the another RF-4E flying alongside the downed one as well as their own recorded radar data could be used by Turkey to prove its version of the episode.

Furthermore, it has come to light that a Turkish Search and Rescue aircraft also came under fire whilst searching the area for the crashed Phantom and its crew, and it was forced to immediately leave the Syrian airspace after the shots.

According to SANA wreckage from the jet, the tail end had been handed to the Turkish authorities with an official record which shows holes which had come from a heavy calibre machine gun. Obviously none of this has been confirmed by the Turkish authorities: Turkish media states that the aircraft has been located in 1,300 meteRs of water but it has not yet been recovered.

Written with The Aviationist’s Editor David Cenciotti

Image credit: Giovanni Colla

Syrian revolution puts instructions on how to shoot down a regime helicopter on-line

Mil Mi-8/17 Hip and Mil Mi-24 (25) Hind gunship helicopters (alongside made-in-Iran drones) have been Assad’s main tools against the oppositors.

That’s why the rebels have put the instructions on how to shoot down an helicopter on-line: the Syrian Revolution 2011 page on Facebook (with about 514K likes) has published a short text that provides hints on how to target a chopper.

Here’s a (rough) translation (provided by Bing)

To all free people free national army …I’ve observed recently that some of the rebels are targeting aircraft alasdet as if they had parked in the air! Any that are targeted directly without taking account of space and time which will reach the plane and shot/shell at the same time!.In fact this is known for both served in the air force and Army aviation use, but to deliver this information to both HSS and the rebels and especially for newcomers to our free hero; we Dear Heroes to leave some distance between the plane and the access point, so that the shot hit the target in the appropriate place and time.The picture below shows a correction and payment when you reference x. And then the plane will arrive and she shot/shell, so drop goal.The seasoned in correction and drop aircraft can estimate the distance accurately, but affiliated with new free army needs to train and practice and awareness. Valnnshar dear HSS this image to all activists and perhaps up to members of the rebel army stationed on the fronts free in most Syrian cities.

Screen dump from Facebook

H/T to @bjoernen_dk for the heads-up

Turkish Phantom shot down in Syria update: it may have violated the Syrian airspace to probe the air defenses readiness

According to the latest news about the Turkish F-4 shot down by a Syrian Air Defense battery on Jun. 22, the North Atlantic Council will meet on Tuesday Jun. 26, following a request by Turkey under article 4 of NATO’s founding Treaty.

Under article 4 of the Treaty, any ally can request consultation whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.

The problem is that Turkey says the unarmed combat plane (173Filo/7Aju) from Erhac, shot down by the Syrian military was engaged without warning.

The aircraft was testing a domestic radar system and was fired at upon leaving Syrian airspace, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said. He also confirmed that the aircraft did enter Syrian airspace before being engaged by the Syrian Anti-Aircraft Artillery, although it had happened by mistake.

As explained on several posts of the Airspace Violations series, aircraft violating a foreign airspace should not be fired upon but warned, intercepted and eventually escorted outside the violated airspace. Anyway, what is still far from being explained is the reason why an (R)F-4 was flying at low level and high-speed just 1 km off the Syrian coast. There are at least three possibilities: navigation error, weather, or intentional violation to probe the enemy air defense readiness.

Although the navigation error can’t never be ruled out a priori, considering the equipment carried by the aircraft, the fact that there are two crew members in a Phantom and, above all, that the plane was flying next to a “danger zone” there’s reason to believe that the two on board were perfectly aware of their position.

What is particularly interesting is the altitude at which the plane was flying when it entered the Syrian airspace. It was extremely low (and it was most probably gunned optically, with no radar lock). As a NATO pilot told me “when you are flying at hi-speed low-altitude you are either performing a rather awkward attempt to penetrate the enemy airspace to use the onboard sensors or to keep below the cloud cover. However, since flying an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) mission at low level and less than 12 nautical miles from the coast is almost useless, I think they were probing the Syrian air defense. And I think that they now have a good idea of their readiness status that is, among the others, one of the most interesting things we can learn from the incident.”

Although they most probably knew that the aircraft was a Turkish Air Force plane, the Syrians may have mistaken it for a defecting Syrian Arab Air Force plane. Hence they shot it down before it could reach Turkey, to prevent another embarrassing episode like the one of the Mig-21 that defected to Jordan.

Even if one might believe that buzzing the enemy airspace to test its reaction time or actively disturbing the enemy training activities is something rare, it is not for Turkey or Syria according to what the NATO pilot told to The Aviationist:

“Few years ago, I was flying as a backseater of a Turkish combat plane during a Taceval at Diyarbakir. Our route brought us along the border with Syria and for almost all that leg of our flight our radio communication were (actively) disturbed. Since the jamming of the radio communications was not planned for that kind of mission, it was most probably the effect of a direct action of the Syrian armed forces.”

In the meantime, the fuselage and ejection seats were located (meaning that both pilots have ejected) but they were not recovered yet.

Their names were made public as Captain Gökhan Ertan and Lieutenant Hasan Hüseyin Aksoy.

Image credit: TuAF

Turkish Phantom shot down by Syria update: Damascus releases the route flown by the plane

On Jun. 23 Syrian news agency SANA has published the following statement issued by a Syrian military spokesman, which provides the version of Damascus about the mysterious downing of a Turkish F-4 Phantom off the Syrian coast on Jun. 22.

At 11:40 AM on 22/6/2012, an unidentified aerial target violated Syrian airspace, coming from the west at a very low altitude and at high speed over territorial waters, so the Syrian anti-air defenses counteracted with anti-aircraft artillery, hitting it directly as it was 1 kilometer away from land, causing it to crash into Syrian territorial waters west of Om al-Tuyour village in Lattakia province, 10 kilometers from the beach.

Noteworthy, an image showing the actual route flown by the downed aircraft was released.

This is much interesting because, if genuine, it shows that the F-4 was circling off the Syrian coast before it headed towards the coast at low altitude and it was downed by the Anti-Aircraft Artillery fire.

As suggested by some readers, the RF-4E was probably carrying an Elbit’s LOROP reconnaissance system that gives the aircraft the ability to gather hi-rez imagery in both visible and IR spectrums at ranges up to 100 km from the target.

Image credit: SANA news agency