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

The route of the downed RF-4E according to the Syrian SANA news agency (Image credit: SANA news agency)

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, 2012:

“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.

The route of the downed RF-4E according to the Syrian SANA news agency (Image credit: SANA news agency)

Make sure to monitor this link to read all past and future stories on this topic: https://theaviationist.com/category/turkish-rf-4e-shot-down/

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. That’s is very strange… If Phantom was flying a very low altitude, what did radar have locked it???

    • maybe it was just a high caliber salvo on sight with no radar illumination at all. turkish airforce have enough training, experience and technology for basic navigation, something is fishy and i dont like it. names of missing pilots offically announced by turkish airforce. crash site and debris located but rescue efforts looks despairing. turkish authorities are still very tight lipped, i hope we gonna hear some serious and detailed statements tomorrow.

      my 2 cents from a turkish guy.

      • update: fuselage and ejection seats located on the seabed, both pilots are possibly ejected and hopefully survived.

    • It could have descended in target area only at the moment of shootdown. Low, can also mean 500m. This means, from 200m hilltop, you got maby 100NM horison range.

  2. If the report is correct and it was flying low only 1 km from the shore, it is possible that was optical and no radar AAA that shot it.

    On the other hand, due to the altitude, it seem quite unlikely the mission was to take long range pictures. At least at that time.

    • The Syrian foreign ministry has been quoted today as saying that “anti-aircraft machinegun which has a maximum range of 2.5 km” was used in bringing down the plane.

  3. Any possibility that the Phantom was an unmanned target drone employed to test Syrian air defenses?

  4. Don’t think that the plane was carrying Elbit Lorop, since the contract (which was signed in 2008) was cancelled back in 2011 http://www.dmilt.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2693:turkey-elbit-lorop-deal-embargoed-by-israel&catid=3:asia&Itemid=56

    However, it might have been equipped with one of those older models (wet film). Rumor has it, there are only two F4s carrying these pods.

    According to Airforces Monthly, all Lorop systems were returned to Elbit back in 2006 due to problems in image processing the large amount of data.

    Can’t confirm the Airforces Monthly article, since I don’t have access to the magazine. I gathered the information from an avionics forum.


  5. I am curious. Does anyone think the Turkish would be capable of using their F4 for a wild weasel approach to paint the Syrian AAA? It would normally take further planes to take the air defense out, and there was reporting on the Syrians targeting a further Turkish (supposedly sent in for rescue purposes) aircraft which then turned off. (There was another report that the Syrians let Turkish helicopters pass for SAR later.)

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