Downed in 17 seconds? Where Turkey’s story of Su-24 violating airspace just doesn’t add up
A Russian Su-24M tactical bomber performing a combat sortie over the territory of Syria in the vicinity of the Turkish border was brought down by a Turkish Air Force fighter jet. Ankara and Moscow have conflicting versions of what exactly happened on Tuesday.
Ankara claims the Russian Su-24 frontline bomber was downed after it violated Turkish airspace. The alleged violation reportedly lasted 17 seconds. The Russian military says the jet never entered Turkish territory and the Turkish F-16 fighter itself breached Syrian airspace.
According to an official narrative that Turkey hastily put forward, its F-16 fighter jets intercepted two “unidentified” aircraft as they were approaching the Syrian-Turkish border. Both had reportedly violated airspace above Turkish territory in the south and one of them was shot at while in Turkish airspace. To back up its claim, Turkey released a flight map of the incident.
In a letter to the UN, which was leaked online, Turkey claimed it had warned the bomber 10 times in five minutes before the F-16s fired air-to-air missiles. The letter says that the plane spent 17 seconds inside Turkish airspace before it was taken down.
The Russian Ministry of Defense denied any communication attempts on behalf of Turkey before the incident.
It said the downed Su-24 had never entered Turkish airspace, demonstrating a flight track contradicting that released by Ankara. The ministry added that the Su-24 was shot down over the Syrian territory about 1km from the border and crashed 4km from it.