March 17, 2014 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Two Turkish F-16 fighter jets scrambled from Diyarbakir AFB today to intercept two Syrian Su-24 'Fencer' fighter jets approaching southern Turkey.
A Turkish two-seat viper is taking off from a very wet runway. [Photo by Emin Fýndýklý
The Syrian warplanes came close to the south of Yayladagi town of Hatay province in southern Turkey
, the General Staff of the Turkish Armed Forces said in the statement, adding that they moved away only 2.2 sea miles from theTurkish border.
The Su-24 represents the most modern and main strike element of the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF). The Su-24s recently received a full factory overhaul (MK2 level) in Russia, ensuring they can maintain a high operational tempo. Syria received a total of 22 Su-24s since 1990.
Twenty Su-24MKs were ordered from the Soviet Union in 1988 and delivered in 1990. One Su-24MK and one Su-24MR were donated by Libya in the mid 90's. However, one Su-24 has already been lost in Syrian Civil War, bringing the total inventory down to twenty-one aircraft.
The MK version Syria received was a downgraded variant of the Su-24M, the M being built for the Soviet Union and the MK for export customers. The Su-24MR is a reconnaissance aircraft with no provision for bombs, but with two panoramic cameras and a side-looking radar installed instead of the attack radar and the laser/TV system on the Su-24M.
On February 8th, 2 Turkish F-16s scrambled to intercept a Syrian MiG-25 'Foxbat' jet which came close to the Turkish southern border. On the same day, two other F-16s scrambled when a Syrian Mi-17 'Hip-H' helicopter came too close.
On March 3rd Turkey's military scrambled eight F-16 jets along its Black Sea coast after detecting a Russian IL-20 spy plane flying over international waters parallel to Turkish airspace.
Interception of jets between the two countries have increased since a Turkish F-4 Phantom was shot down in 2012 by the Syrian army after it reportedly violated the Syrian airspace.
Defense analysts have been watching for additional military buildup in the Black Sea area, which is bordered by six countries including Turkey, Ukraine and Russia. Turkey regularly scrambles jets along its borders and in October alone did so three times after detecting Russian planes in Turkish airspace.
Turkey downed a Syrian Mi-17 attack helicopter
last September, saying that it made a 2-km incursion into its airspace while ignoring warnings.