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Turkey's F-16 that downed Russian bomber was in Syrian airspace for 40 seconds — commander
Turkey's F-16 fighter that shot down the Russian Aerospace Forces' Sukhoi Su-24M bomber was in Syria's airspace for 40 seconds and went 2 kilometers inside its territory, while the Russian bomber did not violate the Turkish state border, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Viktor Bondarev, said Friday.
"In line with air defense means objective control materials, the Turkish plane was in Syria's airspace for 40 seconds and flew two kilometers inside its territory, whereas the Russian bomber did not violate the state border of Turkey," Bondarev said.
He said the crew of the second Su-24 plane confirmed the launch of the missile from the F-16. After the combat employment at the mentioned target and left turn to 130-degree course "it observed on the left side of it flame and a tail of white smoke, which it reported to the flight operations director," he said.
According to the commander, Turkey's F-16 fighter stopped maneuvering in its duty zone and started heading to the missile launch point nearly two minutes before the maximum proximity of the Russian Su-24M bomber to the Syrian-Turkish border.
"It's necessary to note that the fighter stopped maneuvering in the duty zone and started promptly heading to the set-forward launch point 1 minute 40 seconds prior to the maximum proximity of the Su-24M plane to the Syrian-Turkish border," Bondarev told journalists.
He said the actions of the Turkish plane after the missile launch above Syrian territory - wind-down turn with altitude loss and withdrawal under the lower limit of the air defense means target acquisition area - were treacherous and planned beforehand.
Bondarev said the Turkish fighters that attacked the Su-24M were waiting for the Russian bomber in the air. Besides, according to Russian military data, the bomber was in the Turkish Air Force's radar stations coverage area for over 30 minutes.
According to him, during the analysis of the video recording of the air situation display, obtained from the Syrian Air Force and air defense command post, "a mark of the air target flying at a speed of 810 kmph from the direction of Turkey toward the state border on a 190-degree course was discovered."
"After the Turkish fighter's approach with the Su-24M jet at a distance equal to the missile firing range (5-7 kilometers), which testifies to the F-16 plane being above the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, the fighter made an aggressive maneuver to the right in descent and got lost from the screen of the air situation display," he said.
The commander also said that terrorists were informed about the plotted provocation against the Russian plane in advance.
"The fact that groups of terrorists reached the site of the pilot's landing so quickly and that the video of the incident was posted on the internet in a span of 90 minutes proves that the terrorists had been informed in advance about the plotted provocation so that it could be video recorded and posted in social networks," he said.
Bondarev also noted that the video footage of Russian bomber's crash was shot from the territory controlled by terrorists from North Caucasus and former Soviet republics. He also noted that the person shooting the video knew the time and place of the attack in advance.
"The shot angle makes it possible to define the exact place. It is located in a territory held by radical terrorist groups from the North Caucasus or the former Soviet republics. The cameraman knew the exact time and place from it would be possible to make exclusive shots," Bondarev said.
According to him, the Turkish media's readiness to cover the incident was amazingly surprising. The general recalled that the Russian jet was hit at 10:24 on November 25. A private Turkish TV company posted the video 90 minutes later.
"The prompt appearance of terrorist gangs at the landing place and the video's publication in the Internet 90 minutes after the incident proves that the terrorists had been informed of the forthcoming provocation in advance with an aim to shoot everything on a video and place the materials in social networks," Bondarev stressed.
The facts, the general went on to say, are pointing to a pre-planned action designed to destroy the Russian plane and later cover the incident in social networks.
The Turkish Air Force's F-16 fighter on November 24 shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber that Ankara claims violated the country's airspace on the border with Syria. The Su-24M crew ejected but one of the two pilots was killed by fire from the ground. The second pilot was rescued as a result of a 12-hour operation. During evacuation of the Su-24M crew, a Mi-8 helicopter was lost and a contract marine was killed.
Russia's Defense Ministry said the Su-24M was above Syrian territory and "there was no violation of Turkey's airspace." It said the Turkish Air Force fighter violated Syria's airspace.
To protect Russian aircraft in Syria, state-of-the-art S-400 air defense systems, whose killing range reaches 400 kilometers, were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase. Besides, the Russian missile cruiser Moskva equipped with the Fort air defense system (sea version of S-300) approached the Syrian coast.
Russia's Defense Ministry warned that Russian strike aircraft will from now on be escorted by fighters during sorties, while all potentially dangerous targets will be destroyed.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that Turkey's attack will have "serious consequences" for Russian-Turkish relations.
Russia's Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes in Syria at facilities of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organizations, which are banned in Russia, on September 30, 2015, on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The air group initially comprised over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. They were redeployed to the Khmeimim airbase in the province of Latakia.
On October 7, four missile ships of the Russian Navy's Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants' facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.
In mid-November, Russia increased the number of aircraft taking part in the operation in Syria to 69 and involved strategic bombers in strikes at militants.
[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 27Nov15]
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