The news of an alleged downing is doing the rounds. But no Russian plane has been shot down, yet.
In the last few days, several media outlets have reported the news that a Russian aircraft deployed to Syria to take part in the air war against the Islamic State was shot down by the Turkish Air Force, after violating Ankara’s sovereign airspace.
Actually, the rumors started after Twitter went abuzz following the reports that an explosion was witnessed in the sky over the Syrian city of Huraytan, where Russian planes were allegedly flying.
— Gregor Peter (@L0gg0l) 9 October 2015
Shortly after the fake news started doing the rounds, some images of the alleged wreckage of the Russian plane downed near the border appeared on social media. However, these turned out to be photographs of an Afghan Air Force Mi-17 crashed in 2011.
During the first incident, the Russian Su-30SM (initially referred to as a Mig-29 by the Turkish military) maintained a radar lock on one or both the F-16s for a full 5 minutes and 40 seconds before the aircraft departed the Turkish airspace. These incidents were followed by another one, on Oct. 5, when another aircraft, an “unidentified” Mig-29 locked on TuAF F-16s in CAP (Combat Air Patrol) for 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
Following this last episode, the Turkish F-16s began responding to “MiG” radar locks in the same way: by performing lock-ons on the mysterious aircraft flying a bit too close to the border.
Even thought Ankara has said it is not willing to have its aircraft harassed again and won’t accept other violations, nothing at the moment suggests any shot down occurred in the last few days.
The TuAF has never been too “shy” about its military operations air-to-air victories and losses. In Sept. 2013, a TuAF F-16 shot down a Syrian Mi-17 that had violated the Turkish airspace.
On Mar. 23, 2014 a SyAAF Mig-23 that had violated the Turkish airspace by about 1 km was hit by an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) fired by a TuAF F-16C in Combat Air Patrol near the border: a victory celebrated with the kill markings on the F-16C 91-008.
Considered that no wreckage has been found, no official protest’s been filed and that, unlike the past, there has been no official statement about any downing by the Turkish authorities, it’s safe to say that no aircraft was shot down, at least not so far.
H/T Arda Mevlutoglu for providing constant updates