Downing Of The Aircraft Which Has Violated The Turkish Airspace
26 November 2015
DOWNING OF THE AIRCRAFT WHICH HAS VIOLATED THE TURKISH AIRSPACE
On 24 November, in morning hours, Turkish radars detected two SU-24 type aircraft of unidentified nationality flying very close to our border near Yayladağı region of Hatay province.
The two aircraft were warned 10 times by our radar over a period of 5 minutes to change their heading south immediately so as not to violate the Turkish national airspace.
In spite of these warnings, both aircraft violated our air space from east-to-west in Yayladığı province, starting from 09.24 hours.
The first aircraft left our airspace upon continued warnings. The second one continued its violation, and Turkish F-16s patrolling the border region fired at the second aircraft while it was in the Turkish airspace. Having been hit, the aircraft crashed onto adjacent territory inside Syria. Some pieces of the impacted aircraft fell onto Turkish territory and wounded two Turkish citizens.
Nationality of these aircraft was identified with the announcements made by the Russian authorities after the incident.
It must be underlined that the aircraft was engaged while it was in the Turkish airspace.
Our rules of engagement for all aircraft approaching from Syria in violation of Turkish airspace have been explained in clear terms to all concerned parties, including Russia, numerous times.
In fact, following the violation of our airspace by Russian aircraft on 3-4 October 2015, these rules of engagement were explained in clear terms, both in Ankara and Moscow, to Russian authorities at various levels, including at the highest level several times. In particular, the Russian Ambassador in Ankara had been invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and he was informed that Turkish pilots had standing orders to shoot down any military aircraft, regardless of their nationality, approaching from Syria in violation of Turkish airspace. Russian Ambassador was clearly told that Turkey could not be held responsible for any incident that might occur again. In short, our firm expectation that such violations should not recur had been particularly highlighted.
Despite the fact that Russian authorities were fully aware of our rules of engagement, unfortunately, in this latest incident, repeated warnings from Turkish radars were disregarded by the intruding aircraft.
Consequently, the aircraft that continued to violate our national airspace was perceived as a threat and existing rules of engagement were applied.
This is an incident that we wish did not happen. We are saddened by it.
We would like to underline that we have communicated to the Russian side on several occasions that we should absolutely avoid from reaching such a point and that we have made necessary explanations and warnings comprehensively, clearly and sincerely, time and again
Following the shooting down of the aircraft due to the violation of our national airspace, the UN Secretary General and the members of the Security Council were informed with a letter. Concurrently, Embassies of the P-5 of the UN Security Council were invited to the Ministry individually and informed about the situation.
Turkish sovereign air space that was violated is also NATO’s air space. In this regard, the North Atlantic Council held an extraordinary session in the evening on 24 November 2015 upon our request, where we informed our Allies. Our Allies have reaffirmed their strong solidarity with Turkey.
During the press conference following this extraordinary Council meeting, NATO Secretary General recalled that he had previously expressed his concerns about the implications of the military actions of the Russian Federation close to NATO’s borders and stated that the incident highlighted the importance of having and respecting arrangements to avoid such incidents in the future. He also reaffirmed that NATO and Allies stand in solidarity with and support the territorial integrity of Turkey.
Furthermore, NATO Secretary General also affirmed that the information and assessments NATO received from other Allies on the incident are consistent with what Turkey had already provided.
We have no intention whatsoever to escalate the situation. Nevertheless, threats against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Turkey cannot be tolerated.
We are pleased that one of the pilots of the fallen aircraft has been safely returned to his base. Concerning the second pilot, we continue to stand ready to provide full support in all the efforts made by the Russian authorities.
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