Six Turkey’s F-16s scrambled on Syria border after Syrian helicopters came close to the Turkish airspace

Two Turkish F-16s in flight. (Image credit: TuAF).

Six Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jets were scrambled from airbases in southern Turkey after Syrian helicopters were spotted near the border between the two countries.

The Turkish QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) cells were ordered to perform alert take offs and reach the area in response to three similar incidents on Jun. 30, 2012, according to the BBC.

Although no violation of the Turkish airspace has been reported, the incidents came amid growing tensions between Ankara and Damascus, following the mysterious downing of a Turkish Air Force RF-4E on Jun. 22.

Syria claims the Turkish reconnaissance plane was shot down by air defense fire while flying well inside its airspace; Turkey insists it was downed by a surface to air missile after briefly violating and then leaving Syrian airspace, a version that seems to be denied by the U.S. intelligence, in tune with Damascus one.

Following the Phantom incident, the Turkish Government decided to amass rocket launchers and anti-aircraft systems along its southern border.

Four of the F-16s that were scrambled on Jun. 30 took off from Incirlik and two departed from Diyarbakir.

Incirlik is not a permanent F-16 base, but a certain number of fighter jets was probably based there to reinforce Turkey air defense in the region.

The Syrian helicopters that sparked the alert scrambles, flew as close as 6.5km (4 miles) to the border, according to the AP news agency. It is still unclear whether they were of the same type of those used by the regime against the rebels.

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.