No, the Turkish Air Force has not shot down a Russian aircraft near the Syrian border (at least, not yet)

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.

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.

On Oct. 3 and 4 October the Turkish airspace was violated by Russian Air Force Su-30SM and Su-24 aircraft in the Hatay region.

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

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.


  1. Probably didn’t help that the alleged shoot down was mentioned on NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday morning. I had to go back and check all the usual channels for this info, couldn’t find it, but that’s a pretty big news outlet to let that slip with now later clarification.

  2. And for the record the British have not ordered their fighters to shoot down Russian aircraft.

  3. to understand why turkey will never shoot down a russian aircraft: turkey has and will gain a lot from trading with russia, especially oil and gas and control of distribution of oil and gas to europe, chief among them its rival greece, with whom they do radar lockon battle in the aegean sea every day. also turkish hardware is not good enough to go toe to toe with russia even in syrian deployment form. and the usa has not just put very strict rules of engagement of avoidance of russian assets, they retreated us patriot sams as did germany to “moderate” erdogan. and last but not least, after the demo of russian stealth cruise missiles everyone is more cautious because they now realize their mistakes.

    there is a lot of unconfirmed bullshit out there from all sites, the best one is cameron who ordered RAF assets to shoot a russian aircraft in iraq (and syria). no one told him, that RAF has many typhoons in disrepair and grounded because of manufacture failures also some are needed for england and falklands defense? pure testosterone without any regard to calmly and rationally do politics, especially foreign poilitics.

    excuse this rant, but russia now with syria defeats those islamist headcutters who killed a lot of nato and allied soldiers and civilians in failed countries. the honored dead and those maimed would want a closure that their fight was not in vain.

    • Given that no one gave any order about shooting down any aircraft to anyone…
      What would the status of the RAF Typhoons have to do with this affair exactly? For that matter RuAF is fielding some 40 years old technology as their best BVR Air to Air Missiles… You do realize that most of the designs of any military tool the Russians have come out with in the last 20 years did no go beyond limited pre-production runs? You do realize that the only reason why NATO and Russia will not fight each other is due to respective SLBM and ICBMs? and that’s actually a pretty good reason!

      • Keep kidding yourself. They could have sent all SU34’s if they wanted to. The SU24’s were obviously considered the ideal platform in Syria especially if they wanted to use less expensive guided bombs instead of precision Air to Ground Missiles. Guided bombs are generally accurate to within about 5m if dropped from low to moderate altitude. The SU24’s operating there will be upgraded versions in terms of weapons systems and avionics. I can’t remember but I think the Russians intend to upgrade or have upgraded about 40 Su24 instead of replacing them with SU34’s. As a swing wing aircraft similar to the the F111 they are ideal to come in low and slow or fast with there terrain following radar and can carry a good bomb load. What you say about Russian production was true 1990-2005. In the last 10 years though there production of new systems has been increasing. If not how do you explain the 26 cruise missiles launched. They were all pre-production runs? Better range and a supersonic end phase+? we don’t know about. How do you explain the over 100 new aircraft they put into service last year. Get up to date. After a period of stagnation Russian production and development of new weapons systems has been steadily increasing over the last 10 yeas. Two new factories producing S400 SAMS etc.

      • i underestimated erdogan and his harems stupidity – they exposed themselves as IS supportes and black marketeers

      • turkish military believed or was led to believe the aircraft was syrian airforce – and now they will pay many penalties for not visually identifying the su-24 and for the staged ground controlled intercept against NATO rules of engagement – of course russia will not do anything drastic but will impede erdogan and his sultancy at every turn

  4. One more possibility: Both Turkey and Russia don’t want this event public. Shooting down a Syria plane is one thing, down a Russia plane is another. Like ISIS likes to announcement of bombing others, but bombing Turkey is not made public.

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