Tag Archives: Su-24 shoot-down

Russian bombers now flying with air-to-air missiles for self-protection over Syria

Following the downing of the Su-24 Fencer on Nov. 24, Russian attack planes fly with air-to-air missiles for self-protection.

The Russian Air Force has decided to arm the Su-34 Fullback attack planes based at Latakia, in Syria, with air-to-air missiles to enhance the defensive capabilities of the aircraft conducting air strikes against terrorists across the country.

This is one of the measures Moscow put in place after a Su-24 Fencer was shot down by a Turkish Air Force F-16 near the Syria-Turkey border on Nov. 24.

A video posted by the Russian MoD, shows the first Su-34 Fullbacks departing from Latakia on Nov. 30 carrying the R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) and R-73 (AA-11 Archer) missiles along with guided (KAB-500KR) and unguided (OFAB-500) bombs.

Besides the introduction of the air-to-air missiles, the Russian Air Force also announced the decision to enhance strike packages protection with a fighter escort: although there are images showing two Su-34s chased by a single Su-30SM multirole aircraft, the number of Flankers is (still) quite limited to provide such a HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) to all the Russian bombers carrying out raids across Syria.

 

Russian aircraft occasionally intrude Israeli airspace, whereas Turkish jets regularly violate the Greek one.

Airspace violations are more frequent than one might believe.

On Nov. 24, a Russian Air Force Su-24M that allegedly violated the Turkish airspace was shot down by an AIM-120C air-to-air missile fired by a TuAF F-16 in Combat Air Patrol.

Although the details of the incident are quite controversial, with the Russians claiming that no violation occurred nor was the Fencer warned by the TuAF (that has since then suspended its flight over Syria) as Ankara has said since the beginning, it is safe to say that violations occur every now and then and rarely they end up with the downing of the intruder.

Indeed, violations of the Turkish airspace were reported few days after the Russian Air Force contingent deployed to Latakia, in northwestern Syria, started pounding FSA and IS targets across the country.

On Oct. 3 and 4, NATO said a Russian Air Force Su-30SM and Su-24 aircraft violated Ankara’s sovereign airspace in the Hatay region in spite of “clear, timely and repeated warnings.” In that case, the RuAF admitted the violations, claiming they were due to “navigation errors.” TuAF F-16s in QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) were scrambled to identify the intruder, after which the Russian planes departed Turkish airspace. During the Oct. 3 incident, the Russian Su-30SM maintained a radar lock on one or both the F-16s for a full 5 minutes and 40 seconds: a quite unusual and provoking conduct by the Russian pilots.

Following the first incidents, Ankara said it would shot down any aircraft violating their sovereign airspace as done in the past with a Syrian Mig-23, a Mi-17 and an Iranian made Mohajer 4 UAV.

Whilst the alleged violation of the Turkey-Syria border by the Russian Su-24 is far from being unexpected considered the amount of intrusions reported since the beginning of October, far more surprising is the news that the Russians have also violated the Israeli airspace more than once in the past weeks.

“Russian pilots occasionally cross into Israeli airspace, but due to excellent defense coordination that began with Netanyahu’s meeting with Putin in which limits were set, the Israel Defense Forces and the Russian military agreed on security arrangements,” said General (res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s political-security division, as reported to Israeli media outlets.

The security protocol established between Israel and Russia should prevent incident like the one of Nov. 24 and the subsequent diplomatic crisis.

He added, “In the understandings with the Russians, we retain freedom of action in our attempts to prevent weapons getting through from Iran to Hezbollah.”

Violations regularly occur somewhere else.

The skies over the disputed islands of the Aegean Sea are often violated by the Turkish Air Force F-16s and F-4s.

Greece claims 10 miles of air space around a chain of Greek islands lined up along the Turkish west coast, part of those are in very close proximity to the mainland, while Turkey recognizes only six miles (that is to say the extent of the Greek territorial waters, recognized by each other).

Many of the incidents take place within the four-mile radius, which Athens considers its sovereign airspace and Ankara considers international one; however, according to several reports, there are a number of unauthorised Turkish military flights directly over Greek islands themselves.

An article published by Politico last summer reported figures from research at the University of Thessaly, according to which there were 2,244 incursions of Turkish fighter jets and helicopters in 2014 alone.

Although it’s unclear how many of those +2,000 occurred within the contentious 4NM airspace (nor do we know the figures of the Greek violations logged on average by the Turkish Air Force besides this data from 2012), it’s quite clear that a border incident similar to the Russian Su-24 shoot-down is always around the corner over the Aegean Sea. Like the one that led to dogfight and subsequent a mid-air collision in 2006 (causing the death of a Greek pilot).

Anyway, although they were pretty upset by the Russian violation on Nov. 24, the Turkish authorities should be quite used to such kind of incursions, from both the intruder and the intruded standpoint.

GreekAirspace

Image credit: Russian MoD (Top), Politico (Bottom).

 

The Turkish Air Force suspends flights over Syria amid crisis with Russia over Su-24 downing

The Turkish Air Force is no longer supporting the air war on ISIS.

According to  Turkey’s Hurriyet newspaper, the Turkish Air Force has suspended the missions over Syria of its aircraft supporting the international air campaign against ISIS.

This is the effect of the unprecedented diplomatic crisis between Ankara and Moscow sparked by the downing of the Russian Su-24 Fencer bomber by a TuAF F-16 after the alleged and controversial violation of the Turkish airspace on Nov. 24.

According to the Turkish authorities, the Su-24 violated Ankara’s airspace (for 17 seconds) and did not respond to 10 warnings in 5 minutes, radioed by a TuAF GCI (Ground Controlled Intercept) station while the aircraft, along with another one of the same type approached the border. Russian authorities deny this report and claim no warning was issued by the Turkish and no violation occurred at all.

Following the incident, the TuAF said that the warnings, on a dedicated mutually agreed radio channel and the international Guard (emergency) channel (243.0/121.5 MHz), were not answered by the Russian plane that continued to fly towards the Turkish airspace, leading the Turkish Air Force to believe the intruding aircraft was not Russian but Syrian.

One of the Su-24 pilots was killed by fire from the ground after successfully ejecting from the plane in flames whereas the second pilot was rescued in a 12-hour-long operation

Actually, according to the Turkish media outlet, the decision was mutual and aimed at preventing the repetition of the incident along the border: on one side, TuAF jets will no longer take part in the air war on Islamic State, on the other one, the Russians will halt their raids near the Syria-Turkey border.

In the meanwhile, Moscow has deployed the S-400 air defense system at Latakia air base as the following video shows.

 

Russia deploys S-400 and moves guided-missile cruiser off Latakia to protect its jets near Turkish border

After the Turkish Air Force shot down a Russian Su-24, Moscow has decided to deploy some air defense systems to western Syria.

Following the downing of a Russian Su-24 by the Turkish Air Force on Nov. 24, that caused the death of one pilot (the other one was rescued and brought back to Latakia on the following day) Moscow has decided to put in place some new measures to protect its air group operating in northwestern Syria.

First of all, all the Russian attack planes will be escorted by Su-30SM Flankers during their missions against ground targets in Syria (previously, they operated without air cover).

Second, Moscow has decided to deploy at least one S-400 SAM battery to Latakia, to protect its planes from aerial threats in a range of 250 miles. As explained in a previous post about this air defense system, the S-400 (SA-21 “Growler” according to the NATO designation) is believed to be able to engage all types of aerial targets including VLO (Very-Low Observable) aircraft within the range of about 400 km at an altitude of nearly 19 miles.

Third, Russia has already moved the Moskva guided-missile cruiser off the coast of Latakia. Equipped with early warning systems and outfitted with 8 S-300F Fort anti-air systems with a range of 90 km and ceiling at 25,000 mt. Actually, the cruiser has been operating in the eastern Mediterranean to provide cover to the Russian air forces in Syria since Sept. 30.

The following infographic, prepared by @Naval_Graphics, details most of the weapon and sensor systems aboard the Slava-class cruiser.

Needless to say, with all the air defense systems amassing in the area, the 18 Turkish Air Force F-16s currently on CAP (Combat Air Patrol) station at the Syrian border, while the Russian jets conduct airstrikes in the Turkmen mountains (more or less in the same area where Su-24 pilots ejected yesterday), have something more to be worried about.

Moskva info full

Image credit: @Naval_Graphics

 

Here’s the alleged Audio of the Turkish Air Force warning the Russian Su-24 before downing it

Hear a Turkish Air Force radar station warning an unknown aircraft about to enter the Turkish airspace.

On Nov. 24, a Russian Air Force Su-24M belonging to the contingent deployed to Latakia, in western Syria, was shot down by a Turkish Air Force F-16 after violating Ankara’s airspace in the Hatay region.

Here you can find all the details about the downing and subsequent CSAR (Combat SAR) mission launched by Russian choppers, one of those was destroyed by rebels on the ground, where the helicopter had performed an emergency landing.

The two Russian pilots, who ejected from the Su-24 in flames, died in the incident (it’s still unclear whether at least one of them died before it touched the ground or was killed by the rebels who reportedly gunned the two parachutes).

According to the Turkish authorities, the Russian plane was warned 10 times in 5 minutes while it approached the boundary with another Su-24, before it was engaged.

The violation was extremely short: flying at 19,000 feet, the Fencer crossed the Turkish airspace for 17 seconds. While one of the Fencers egressed towards the Syrian airspace, the doomed Su-24 was hit by an air-to-air missile (AIM-9X, based on the Russian report that mentions an IR-guided weapon; other sources suggested it may have been an AIM-120).

Interestingly, the Russian MoD denied any warning was radioed (by the F-16) to the Russian Su-24 at all.

This may be true because it was for sure a Turkish Air Force radar station to warn the Russian plane and to urge it to head south, away from the border.

The following audio was recorded on the international UHF Emergency frequency 243.000 MHz by a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. We have no way to verify whether the audio was really recorded earlier today and we must highlight that similar messages have been radioed to unknown/Russian aircraft in the vicinity of the Turkish airspace in the past as well and recorded/heard by radio-hams and airband listeners located in Turkey and Greece.

However, some Turkish media outlets have already published a similar recording released by the TuAF in the aftermath of the shoot-down.

Provided it was recorded today, the audio would confirm both the Turkish and Russian versions: the TuAF radar warned the “unknown” plane (as claimed by Ankara) and it was not one of the F-16 to radio the message to the Su-24 (as claimed by Moscow).

Now, listen to the audio (if you can’t see the player below click here):