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

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


About David Cenciotti 4453 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance 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 four books.


  1. Accusing me of trolling is pretty low since the amount of “US is best, damn the rest” trolls is larger then their Russian counterparts by at least an order of magnitude.

  2. USAF ones – yes. I was talking about Turkish ones. I should have been clearer.

    Flankers carry their R-27s with both active-radar seekers and IR seekers. Usual tactic is to fire one of each at a single target. 2 inbound missiles with different seekers and thus different tactic of avoiding them. Jammer might deceive the radar seeker of one. But still got the IR one coming in.

  3. I never claimed that they make it invulnerable. However the AMRAAMs performance to date, against targets with no ECM capability, barely functioning and airworthy (Serbians) and with rather poorly trained pilots which also are unaware of being attacked, is rather unspectacular being around 55%. Against well-trained crew flying a very modern super-maneuverable fighter with modern ECM and ESM, the performance of AMRAAM would be even less stellar.

    Flankers had DRFM-based jammer pods with ESA technology since first Su-27s. They jam the incoming missile from two sides (cross-eye). The early ones were L-005 Sorbtsia. Current ones are SAP. Flankers carry them on wing tips.

    • The Turks KNEW they were bullying a helpless F-111-class ungainly bomber, armed with nothing more than a couple of Aphids at most, which didn’t know it was going to be attacked by ”friendlies” or ”neutrals”.

      You think they would have DARED to take on a Flanker-C,
      let alone a Flanker-D ?

  4. Not exactly.

    Some newer missiles have dual-seeker heads.

    Some have semi-active guidance or use a combination of other methods.

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