After weeks of Russian aircraft flying in close proximity to the Turkish border there has been a shooting incident. Earlier today, Turkish F-16s shoot down a Russian Su-24 Fencer fighter-bomber after it violated Turkish airspace. The Fencer’s pilots had been warned repeatedly via radio that they had crossed the border and did not respond. As a result, Turkish F-16s shot the aircraft down. According to early reports, both pilots did eject, however, their condition is not known for certain at the moment.
It was just a matter of time before something like this happened. In fact, this is exactly the sort of situation that many people feared would come about. Since the Syrian civil war erupted Turkey has staunchly defended its airspace. There were a handful of incidents between Turkish and Syrian forces resulting in the loss of aircraft on both sides. When Russian air missions began in Syria in September, Ankara warned Russia about keeping its aircraft on the correct side of the border. Despite the warnings, there have been some instances of Russian aircraft crossing into Turkey in the last six weeks.
The concern now is what happens next. Will this incident act as a vehicle for escalation or will it be a one-time affair? It is too early to know with a degree of certainty. The incident just happened a few hours ago and there are conflicting reports on whether it was ground fire or Turkish fighters that brought the Fencer down. There are also conflicting reports about the condition of the Russian pilots.