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Turkish F-16s down a Syrian Mi-17 helicopter

September 16, 2013 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Turkish Air Force downed a Syrian Mi-17 "Hip" helicopter today at the border after it violated Turkish airspace, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said. Reports say the helicopter crashed inside Syrian territory.

TuAF F-16C block 50 #93-0687 from 192 Filo is seen in formation with another F-16 which launches a flare. [TuAF photo]

A Syrian Mi-17 helicopter was detected 2km (1.2 miles) inside Turkish airspace at 14.20hrs today, said the deputy prime minister. Turkish F-16s shot the helicopter down after it allegedly continued to violate Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings by air defense command, he said.

There is no definitive news on the fate of the aircrew of the helicopter. However some reports have indicated one of the crew was captured by Syrian rebels.

The deputy prime minister said the initiative taken by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to shoot down the Syrian helicopter was based on the rules of engagement with Syria.

Turkish General Staff released a statement and published the radar track history regarding the incident.

1. The Syrian Mi-17 Hip was first detected as possible intruder and immediately tracked by the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC/BİKİM) in Diyarbakır at 13:41h LT, while it was 26 NM (nautical miles) from the border.
2. CAOC repeatedly issued warnings to the helicopters until it was 5 NM from the border
3. The helicopter intruded Turkish airspace at 14:25h near Guvecci Gendarmerie Post at Yayladag, Hatay province at 14,200 ft and 2km depth.
4. Two F-16Cs that were on CAP (Combat Air Patrol) nearby were diverted to intercept the helicopter
5. The helicopter was shot down at 14:27h and crashed at 1km within the Syrian side of the border.

Mr Arinc said Turkey will provide the UN Security Council and NATO with a full report.

Syria's northwestern border with Turkey is one of the few areas on the frontier still in the hands of President Bashar al-Assad, according to AFP agency. Last week, Turkey beefed up a military presence along its southern border with Syria in anticipation of U.S.-led strikes on the regime in Damascus. They deployed, among others, at least 25 additional F-16 fighter jets at its Diyarbakir air base.

In June 2012, a Turkish RF-4E Phantom reconnaissance jet was downed by a Syrian Air Defense Unit. On Sept. 2, Assad launched two Syrian Air Force Su-24 attack planes towards Cyprus to probe British airbase’s air defenses; the aircraft turned back to Syria, after RAF Typhoons and TUAF F-16s were scrambled to intercept them.

Additional images:

TuAF F-16C block 40 #88-0037 from 141 Filo is flying over desert terrain during an exercise. [TuAF photo]

A TuAF F-16C from 132 Filo peels away and rolls over, heading earthbound. [TuAF photo]

TuAF F-16D block 50 #07-1024 is coming in for landing at RAF Leeming on September 29th, 2012. [Photo by Jamie Ewan]