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NEITHER F-15 OF NATO NOR F-16 OF TURKEY DARE HARMING RUSSIAN FIGHTERS ANY MORE WHILE TRANSITING THROUGH TURKEY OVER A SORTIE IN SYRIA.
On 24 November 2015 at 9:24 am, as it was returning to Khmeimim airbase, a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber aircraft with tail number 83 was shot down near the SyrianÃ¢ÂÂTurkish border by a AIM-9X Sidewinder missile from a patrolling Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet.The Economist reported that the two Su-24s were on their way to strike Syrian Turkmen targets.Syrian government forces supported by the Shiite militias and the Russian air force were fighting against Syrian Turkmen brigades, Army of Conquest and al-Nusra Front fighters, basically terror forces.
.Russia confirmed Turkish reports that the aircraft had been shot down by aTurkish fighter jet. The Turkish military released a graphic of the Russian aircraft's flight pattern, which shows it crossing the southern tip of Hatay Province before being shot down and crashing near Turkmen Mountain.
PIC: SU-24 Fighter plane similar to the one shot by Turkey PIC; Flight path of downed S-24 as stated by Turkey
According to Turkey's statement to the UN Security Council, two aircraft, whose nationalities were unknown at the time, violated Turkish airspace up to a depth of 2.19 km (1.36 mi) for about 17 seconds. According to Turkish officials, the aircraft were given 10 warnings within the span of 5 minutes, by operators at a ground-controlled interception station, to change their course. Turkey later released the audio recording According to Turkey, one aircraft left Turkish national airspace after violating it; the other aircraft was fired upon by Turkish F-16s patrolling the area and crashed into Syrian territory after being hit in Turkish airspace.Based on its heat signature, an anonymous American official stated that the jet was hit in Syrian airspace after a short incursion into Turkey which virtually supported Russian statement on the incident . On 30 November, US Ambassador to NATO Douglas Lute stated that the data supported the Turkish version of events.
According to the Russian Defence Ministry, the Su-24 was downed from an altitude of 6,000 metres within one kilometre of the Turkish border and in Syrian airspace, while returning to the Khmeimim airbase in Syria. Russia has maintained that the aircraft never left Syrian territory.The Russian Defence Ministry confirmed the aircraft was a Su-24 but said that it had proof the jet was within Syrian airspace. According to the commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Viktor Bondarev, a Turkish F-16 entered Syria's airspace for 40 seconds and flew 2 km inside Syrian territory, but the Russian bomber did not violate the Turkish border.The surviving crew of the ill fated Su-24 also denied straying into Turkish airspace and of any warning of a patrolling Turkish fighter jet.
Gross violation of accepted ROE ( Rule of Engagement) :
Leaving apart the aforesaid controversy of who encroached into whose airspace let us analyse what rule of engagement forced Turkey to shoot down the Russian plane as the lightening quickness of 17 seconds with which Turkey fired upon the intruding ( if we at all agree to intrusion for the sake of argument) plane of a super power seems abnormal by any standard unless two countries are declared war opponents. Moreover apart from being a super power Russia had ben supplying Turkey with more than 50% of its energy needs, the deprivation of which Turkey could ill afford by antagonising Russia. Hence was it insanity on the part of Erdogan that precipitated such an act? Not quite.
Neither Turkey nor its NATO allies got the Russian message, conveyed through Syria, when a Turkish military reconnaissance aircraft was shot down, apparently in Syrian airspace over the Mediterranean in June 2012. After the incident, no doubt a humiliation for an emerging superpower, Turkey said it changed its military "rules of engagement" over its Syrian border and would now "disproportionately retaliate against ANY violation of its airspace" along the border. It did, when in 2014 and 2015 the Turkish military shot down one Syrian military aircraft, one helicopter and one drone for marginal violation. But on Oct. 3 and Oct. 4, 2015 Russian warplanes twice violated Turkish airspace during a bombing campaign in Syria . Subsequently, Syria-based (Russian) missile systems harassed Turkey's warplanes while eight Turkish F-16 jets were on a patrol flight along the Syria border. In addition, an unidentified MIG-29 harassed Turkish jets on Oct. 6, 2015. The rules of engagement? Disproportionate retaliation in the event of ANY violation of the Turkish airspace along the Syrian border? The Turkish "disproportionate" retaliation against the Russian gambit over Syria came in a few punishing ways:1- President ErdoÃÂan warned Russia against losing Ankara's friendship: "It is, of course, not possible to remain patient about this violation." An attack on Turkey means an attack on NATO, Mr. ErdoÃÂan said, citing Article V of NATO's Treaty.2- Prime Minister Ahmet DavutoÃÂlu: "Let me put it bluntly: Turkey's rules of engagement are valid for Syria's, Russia's or another country's warplanes. The Turkish Armed Forces have been issued with open instructions."3- The foreign ministry announced that Turkish military officials were ready to meet with their Russian counterparts "to get explanations for the violations of the Turkish airspace."
NATO or US did not clear their F-15s parked in Turkey for engagement with Russin planes :
It is clear that sanity did not prevail on Turkey while following its proclaimed disproportionate ROE. Fortunately sanity of the super powers still prevailed and the F-15 fighters parked in the NATO base inside Turkey's Incirlik airbase close to Syrian border.
As one senior US Air force official explained, the service deployed six F-15E Eagle air superiority fighters for hitting ISIS targets in northern Syria. Six F-15C were sent to stiffen Turkey's defence against possible encroachment into Turkish border by Russian fighter planes.These F-15Cs were never given clearance for air defence role when Turkey downed the Su-24.
Soon after this Russia moved its missile cruiser Moskva to the Syrian coast which was equipped with formidable S-300 missile defence, a deadly threat to conventional fighters like F-15 or F-16. In addition more fearsome S-400 air defence system was also deployed to their base in Latakia, Syria and in the north of Syria which enables them to engage targets deep inside Tuskish airspace. Even coalition sorties into Syria over Daesh targets now have to be in concurrence with Russian air force based in Syria by mutual sharing of intelligence to avoid accidental triggering of Russian air defence in Syria. Russians may also be on the way to deploy many more advanced aircraft like Su-30SM and Su -27 SM3 in the region.
Need of an established Rule of Engagement(ROE) to prevail :
United States however is still working on keeping only F-15Cs to defend Turkish airspace. But they are particular of the proper ROE to follow in stead of a mad presidential edict of " Disproportionate ROE" which brought down the Su-24 and created a whole lot of mess for the coalition forces . A normal ROE would have escorted the intruding fighter outside the border particularly when the objective of the fighter was clearly not to aim targets inside Turkey.
This ROE which is expected to be established with the consents of Russia in view of its deadly strike capability in the vicinity will play a crucial role for stability in the region while the stake holders attempt to implement the UN resolution for peace in Syria on a declared road map.
Russian fighters will remain unharmed by F-15 or F-16 from Turkish bases:
Not withstanding the proposed ROE stated above where in the NATO F-15 or Turkish F-16 can now at the most escort out a Russian fighter while transiting for maneuvering needs through Turkish airspace projected into Syria on a sortie to and from Syrian targets, none of these US fighters will dare triggering its guns or missiles on a Russian fighter inside or outside the Turkish border because of instant mortal retaliatory threats from (a) S-300 defence system on Moskva parked on the Syrian coast or (b) S-400 defence system installed on Syrian land or (c) Air borne missiles carried mandatorily now by each Russian fighter for self defence or all of them put together.