Russian Su-30SM, Su-24 violate Turkish airspace. Flanker locks on TuAF F-16 for +5 minutes

Oct 05 2015 - 42 Comments

It looks like a Sukhoi Su-30SM deployed to Syria has had a close encounter with Turkish Air Force F-16s past the Syria-Turkey border.

Russian planes deployed to Syria violated the Turkish airspace twice in the last couple of days.

According to NATO, the violations occurred “on 3 October and 4 October by Russian Air Force SU-30 and SU-24 aircraft in the Hatay region. The aircraft in question entered Turkish airspace despite Turkish authorities’ clear, timely and repeated warnings. In accordance with NATO practice, Turkish fighter aircraft responded to these incursions by closing to identify the intruder, after which the Russian planes departed Turkish airspace.”

Some more (sometimes contradictory) details appeared on the Turkish media outlets: although the first reports said the aircraft (initially IDed as Mig-29 Fulcrums – a type flown by the Syrian Air Force and not deployed in theater by the RuAF) breached into the Turkish airspace for 5 miles, according to Ankara, the Russian Su-30SM multirole plane violated Tukey’s airspace by “only” some hundreds of meters and returned to Syria after it was intercepted by two F-16s from the Turkish Air Force out of 10 flying CAP (Combat Air Patrol) near the border.

Furthermore, it seems that the Russian Su-30SM (as said, initially referred to as a Mig-29, before it was determined it was a Flanker-derivative multirole jet) maintained a radar lock on one or both the F-16s for a full 5 minutes and 40 seconds.

According the Russians, the violation was due to a “navigation error”: quite funny considered the type of navigation systems equipping a modern Su-30SM.

Although the navigation error can’t never be ruled out a priori, considering the equipment carried by a 4++ Gen. aircraft, and that it was flying next to a “danger zone” there’s reason to believe that the two pilots on board were perfectly aware of their position.

What is even more weird is the fact that the Russian plane locked the Turkish F-16s for such a long time: instead of turning back the RuAF Sukhoi was ready to fire (or to respond to fire).

Almost no details are currently available about the Su-24 Fencer violation.

As explained when a Turkish RF-4 was shot down by a Syrian coastal anti-aircraft battery after violating the Syrian airspace in 2012, aircraft entering a foreign airspace should not be fired upon but warned, intercepted and eventually escorted outside the violated airspace.

In 2014, a Syrian Mi-17 was shot down by a TuAF F-16, while in 2013 it was the turn of a Syrian Mig-23. But now the Turkish F-16s defending Ankara borders face a different threat….

Image credit: Russian MoD


  • Art!P

    We are sorry.

  • Ramon Aguila2014

    Damn. Lock on for more than 5 minutes??? Did they have to hose down that F-16 cockpit of vomit and piss after it landed? How does an F-16 get nailed for that long?? Is the BARS-R radar on the SU-30SM reality that good??!! The TuAF has Block 40/Block 50 F-16’s for goodness sake.

    • Patrick

      If the aircraft were intercepted by Turkish F-16’s as the media claims, then all fighters involved would have been within visual range of each other. Not especially difficult to maintain radar lock at that distance.

  • disqus_STXkrV9NGc

    If aircraft should be warned, intercepted and then escorted out according to protocol, then neither country, Syria nor Turkey, are following protocol. At least not always.
    Israel shot down a Syrian Su-24 last year after it went 800m into its airspace. The plane crashed in Syria and both pilots ejected in Syria.
    Although it may be argued that that’s FairPlay, given the countries are virtually at war, to me it seems like everyone’s attitude is: protocol shmotocol.

  • Tawse

    Interesting the different response – i.e. not shooting – from the Turks now that the Russians are backing the Syrians with air power.

    As the article notes, prior to the last few weeks the Turks were happy to shoot down any straying Syrian fighter.

  • γιαννης

    some other reports said the mig 29 was locking them for 3 mins and something and a ground SAM locked them for 2 mins something
    go figure what really happened

  • Patrick

    Not really – modern air-intercept radars have a very wide field of view. Depending on the intercept geometry -it’s possible both parties were in constant positions to take missile shots if needed.

  • Steve

    Turkish airforce has been violating Greek airspace on a daily basis for years. The turkish airforce fly directly over Greek Islands and harass the Hellenic airforce. This never makes the international news or gets any involvement from the EU. All of a sudden with a couple of Russian incursions its big news.

  • herschel wince

    what happens if a ‘ crazy turk pilot ‘ shoots a rooski down?

    • Max Glazer

      The base of that F-16 would be turned into rubble by a cruise missile barrage the same way IS targets were hit by cruise missiles.

  • E1-Kabong

    Your Russian made targets will make great practice for Western Allies if and when your pals mad-Vlad and Assad decide to do something stupid.

    How many F-15’s and F-16’s have your pals shot down over the decades?
    How many MiG’s and Sukhoi’s have been whacked?

    Remind me.

    • Chika Chamal

      Hate to burst your bubble but you have no idea about Russian capabilities. you are so full of yourself. read about S-500 Air defense system that they have in place, let alone the jets and other fancy stuff. It can engage a target within 1000kms radius. Recently they fired cruise missiles that traveled 900kms more than US counterparts.

  • E1-Kabong

    They can fly slower, you know….

  • E1-Kabong

    Excuses, excuses….

    With all the boasting Russia does about having ‘modern technology’, there is no excuse for such a massive navigation error.

  • E1-Kabong

    Who said it was the IRST?

    The story specifically says RADAR LOCK.

  • E1-Kabong


    Yet ANOTHER Russian made target…..

  • E1-Kabong


    Russian aircraft die quicker than Western ones.

  • E1-Kabong

    Yeah, no.

    Radars do work broadside, also…

  • Steven M Zerbey

    I think you’re right, sharing your encounter with a Russian Su-27SM with the grandchildren is better than any of the possible alternatives.

  • Steve

    The fact is that Turkish airforce is the aggressor is this instance as everyone knows and Greece defending its airspace and islands

  • tham58

    Entered their airspace just a few hundred yards and
    they want to make so much noise ?

    He’s lucky the Russian fighter didn’t take him out.

    If the Su-30SM had been carrying R-27ERs, the F-16
    would have been blown out of the sky long before he
    could use his Amraams.

    • E1-Kabong

      Yeah, no.

      Those AIM-120’s outrange that Russian junk.

      • tham58

        I’m sure they do.

        So what has the West got that is even close
        to the AS-4 Kitchen fielded over FIVE DECADES ago ?

        • E1-Kabong

          What do they need such a HUGE, clumsy, outmoded missile for?

          Do try to keep up.

  • E1-Kabong

    Apparently some people in Russia are more concerned with deflecting attention from Russia’s INVASION of Ukraine and the mounting pile of dead Russian soldiers….

  • Max Glazer

    I don’t need to prove anything. All the proof is in the lack of Turks shooting. Or in Israeli F-15s running away from Su-30SMs

    Israelis were shown very clearly what will happen to them if they try to kill Russians. Taking out Qussam rockets is very different to taking out Russian cruise missiles. And Russians could very easily turn Israeli airfields to rubble. If the demonstration of their ability to hit targets 1500km away isn’t enough proof of their accuracy (and no they didn’t crash in Iran), then there is no need to talk further.