Updated: Turkey has just shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 near the border with Syria

Image credit: Yeni Safak

Images coming from Syria show a Su-24 Fencer in flames. And it’s Russian.

On Nov. 24, 2015, the Turkish Air Force shot down what appears to be a Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer that, according to the first reports, violated Turkey’s airspace.

It’s unclear whether the aircraft was shot down by a TuAF F-16 (as some media have reported) or by a Turkish Army anti-aircraft battery but, what really matters is that according to Turkish Presidency, the Su-24 shot down belongs to the Russian Air Force contingent in Syria.

The Su-24 Fencer is a swing-wing attack plane operated by both the Syrian Arab Air Force and by the Russian Air Force that has deployed 12 Su-24M2 at Latakia since the end of September.

The Su-24 Fencer is a supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft developed in the Soviet Union and serving, among the others, even with the Iranian and Libyan Air Force.  It’s twin-engined two-seater plane with a variable geometry wing, designed to perform ultra low level strike missions.

If confirmed this was not the first Russian planes breached into the Turkish airspace. On Oct. 3 and 4 a Russian Air Force Su-30SM and Su-24 aircraft violated Ankara’s sovereign airspace in the Hatay region. NATO said that the Russian combat planes entered Turkish airspace despite Turkish authorities’ “clear, timely and repeated warnings.” In that case, TuAF F-16s in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) were scrambled to identify the intruder, after which the Russian planes departed Turkish airspace. Nevertheless, as if violating the airspace of a NATO member was not enough, the Russian Su-30SM 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.” Following the incident Ankara said it would shot down any aircraft violating their sovereign airspace as done in the past with the Syrian Mig-23 and Mi-17. Last month there were rumors that a Russian plane had been shot down by the Turkish Air Force near the border that proved to be false.

Update: here’s the radar picture showing both the Su-24 and the F-16 tracks. The violation was quite short (17 seconds). According to the Turkish authorities the Russian plane was issued 10 warnings in 5 minutes before being shot down.

Radar track

According to the Russian MoD, no violation occurred at all.

Both pilots ejected. One of them, whose photo has appeared on Social Media, died. Russian Mi-8 helicopter escorted by Mi-24 gunship from Latakia were spotted searching for the aircrew in Syrian territory:

Update: there are reports (still unconfirmed) that rebels shot down one of the rescue choppers. However, according to ACIG editor Tom Cooper the Russian CSAR helo was heavily shot up by insurgent ground fire and limped back to Russian helidrone at Istamo (south of Lattakia). Reportedly, no crewmember was injured.


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. If you bothered to read my comment while operating your intelligence capacities the same way you do to glorify Russia, you wouldn’t have made this redundant statement. I’m going to repeat what I said.

    First, Al Nusra IS NOT allied to FSA. Yes, they both fight the government, sometimes (rarely) side by side under truce, but DO NOT like each other. The FSA has blamed Al Nusra of many criminal acts and vice versa. They even occasionally fight each other. Finally, Turkmen fighter are a somewhat independent branch of the FSA.

    Second, Al Nusra is, yes, a radical Islamist organization. It is, yes, considered a terrorist organization by the US and certain other Western countries, but constitutes a minuscule threat to anyone but Assad. It can’t be even remotely be compared to the savagery of IS. It’s like comparing Hitler to Mussolini.

    • I don’t glorify anybody. I state facts! You just lie.

      Fact 1 – the Turkmen are allied with Al Nusra. Al Nusra is a terrorist organisation
      Fact 2 – Turkey is supplying terrorists in Syria with weapons and other aid
      Fact 3 – irrespective of whether FSA is allied with Al Nusra or ISIS or however they are all TERRORISTS
      Fact 4 – there is no such thing as a moderate terrorist

      • You keep repeating this “moderate terrorist” thing. I never even alluded to anything like that. The problem here, is that you’re using the Assad and Putin’s definition of terrorists, while I’m using the rest of the world’s.

        I don’t know what constitutes a terrorist for you, but most rebel factions are damn similar in almost every aspect to Russian seperatists in Crimea (which I assume are not terrorists to you).

        Finally, I don’t lie. Look up the Wikipedia page of the Syrian Civil War and read. Some FSA factions cooperate with Al Nusra occasionally, others never do. Those that do maintain a love-hate relationship with them, and the head of the FSA refuses recognition of their association.

        I also think you’re missing the big point here. Regardless of how savage you think al Nusra may be, the real threat to the West is ISIS and ISIS only.

      • Correction: the real threat to anyone outside Syria is ISIS (not limited to the West, as the Metrojet crash indicates).

        I also forgot to mention, as I see it is imperative to mention the obvious, Al Nusra, FSA, the Kurds… Everyone the Putin is bombing is opposed to ISIS. By removing the rebels, Putin is not only helping out Assad, but also ISIS (keep in mind that the vast majority of strikes were against rebels, and that ISIS and Assad are actually on alright terms).

  2. Oh, and not to mention that statistically, FSA and Al Nusra fight ISIS more often than Assad. Recent Russian bombings help explain why ISIS has gained ground in the north, ground that used to be under rebel control. Rebels which the Russians bombed.

Comments are closed.