A pair of Turkish Air Force F-16s intercepted and shot down one of two Syrian Mig-23 type fighter aircraft after the aircraft violated Turkish Airspace, TR Defence sources confirmed on Sunday.
“Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, then from now on, our slap will be hard,” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told supporters at a campaign rally in Istanbul.
Syria’s state-controlled news agency SANA reported that the pilot successfully ejected and was quickly rescued.
The two Syrian Mig 23s flying north were spotted by Turkish radar and warned four times before entering Turkish airspace. One of them turned around but the other continued into Turkish airspace. One of the Turkish F-16s engaged the Syrian Mig just inside the Turkish border with an AMRAAM radar-guided missile. The Syrian aircraft was hit and finally crashed about 1000 yards south of the Turkish-Syrian border.
Erdogan on Sunday congratulated the military for downing a Syrian warplane near its border and warned of a “heavy” response if its airspace was violated.
“I congratulate the chief of general staff, the armed forces and those honourable pilots… I congratulate our air forces,” said the premier.
Turkey toughened its rules of engagement toward Syria after Syria’s shooting down an unarmed Turkish F-4 Phantom over the Mediterranean Sea. Turkish Air Force shut down a Syrian military transport helicopter last year, also for violating Turkish airspace.