Assad launched two Syrian Air Force Su-24 attack planes towards Cyprus to probe British airbase’s air defenses

Last week we reported the news that, on Sept. 2, the RAF Typhoons based in Cyprus, to provide the air defense of the island following the Syrian crisis, were scrambled from the British base at Akrotiri whereas two Turkish Air Force took off from Incirlik airbase and headed towards the island.

In the following days, more details about the Cyprus incident emerged.

Journalist Andrew Potter talked to the British MoD spokeperson who said: “The MOD can confirm that Typhoon Air Defence Aircraft were launched from RAF Akrotiri yesterday to  investigate unidentified aircraft over the Eastern Mediterranean; the aircraft were flying legally in international airspace; no intercept was required.”

On Sept. 8, The Sunday People / Sunday Mirror revealed that Syrian Su-24 Fencers were actually involved.

“RAF Typhoon fighters won a mid-air showdown with two Syrian warplanes heading towards Britain’s main base in Cyprus, the Sunday People can ­reveal. The dramatic confrontation came after President Bashar al-Assad’s air chiefs sent two Russian-made Sukhoi Su-24s to probe our air defences. The Syrian bombers refused to respond to repeated attempts by the control tower at the UK’s Akrotiri air base to contact them.”

RAF Typhoons from the XI Sqn in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) duty on the island, were scrambled before the Su-24s, that were flying in international airspace and were spotted by a flying E-3D AWACS could enter the 14-mile air exclusion zone. Otherwise, they would have been intercepted and identificated, and eventually escorted out of the restricted airspace.

Buzzing the enemy airspace to test its reaction time or actively disturbing the enemy training activities is not rare.

For instance, the Turkish RF-4E Phantom shot down by Syria in 2012 was probably violating the Syrian airspace to probe Damascus’s air defense readiness.

H/T to TJ for the heads-up

Image credit: SANA/Reuters


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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.