The Turkish Air Force has shot down an unidentified drone in Turkish airspace. Known and unknown facts.

The Turkish Air Force has shot down an unidentified UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) over the Syria-Turkey border.

Turkish Air Force jets, most probably F-16s flying CAPs (Combat Air Patrols) along the Syria-Turkey border shot down an unidentified drone that had violated the Turkish airspace earlier today.

According to the information made available so far, the Turkish combat planes issued three warnings to the (unmanned) aircraft before shooting it down. Although this may seem a bit odd in this case, as the one shot down was a really small model (resembling a Russian-made Orlan 10) larger UAS (Unmanned Air Systems), controlled by a Ground Control Station usually have radios to talk with the ATC (Air Traffic Control) stations: for instance, the famous U.S. Predator and Global Hawk drones have U/VHF radios that pilots operating from the inside GCS use to talk with the air traffic control agencies along the route.

Therefore, Turkish jets may have radioed three warnings to the drone, in spite of its size, because the current RoE (Rules Of Engagement) require them to do so when intercepting an unidentified, manned or unmanned aircraft

The TuAF F-16s were on a heightened alert status since the violations of the Turkish airspace conducted by Russian Air Force Su-30SM and Su-24 aircraft in the Hatay region on Oct. 3 and 4, and subsequent  radar lock by an “unidentified” Mig-29 on Oct. 5.

Following these border skirmishes, the Turkish F-16s began responding to “MiG” radar locks by performing lock-ons on the aircraft “harassing” them. However, it’s quite likely considered the type of target, that the drone shot down today was hit with a gun strafe instead of a missile.

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 violated the Turkish airspace by about 1 km was shot down by the F-16C 91-008 in CAP near the border.


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.


    • Is this really a miltary drone? Damage level doesn’t seem consistent wit being shot down by an F-16.

      • It does not look like a military drone, or at least like one of those small used by american infantry troops…Russian equipment sucks.

    • Looks like quite a basic drone a hobbiest might have! No fancy synthetic aperture radar and thermal imaging etc. Looks pretty expendable though.

    • It isn’t an Orlan 10. If you look at the wreckage this UAV has square wingtips. The tail is also different with end-plates on the tailplane. Probably an Orlan variant. The type has been seen before in Syria. One came down in rebel controlled territory back in July 2015. Looks like the Syrians also use the type.

  1. That’s Orlan-10 UAV. As I see, it has different design than UAV which was shot down

    • The engine/nose looks different from the Orlan-10 above. The engine air inlet looks like a single “chin” inlet as opposed to the two lateral inlets above, and there’s no sign of the 3 “exhaust pipes”. It could be a variant, with a new engine installation.

      It looks exactly like the UAV recovered in Ukraine shown here:

  2. a few toughs, if that toy was shot with an air to air missile there would be nothing left of it, if it was shot with an aa gun it would be in peaces, I’m thinking maybe some Kurd kid was out flying his kite and it fell in Turkey

    • Well well well… I agree the thing was not downed by either missile or AA fire.. also on the original news flow there is no mention of any fighter jet being involved. Tracking that thing for a strafing burst while flying on a fast jet is really complex if not impossible and I wonder if that thing is indeed showing on the average air defense radar in area scanning mode or can be locked on by an average tracking radar at a useful distance. Let alone steering an average missile to home on it. Given that, a missile blast might not wipe it out of the sky…the thing shows a very limited section to the expanding rod warhead of an anti-air missile working with proximity fuse. So the damage could be limited indeed… a small number of parts, not much fuel to burn and low crashing speed will allow you to find a pretty intact wreckage. Maybe a little bit more damage by fire on the surface. On the other hand, the thing may have been hacked to crash, jet-washed to crash, downed with a shotgun from the ground or simply crashed by itself.

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