Turkish RF-4E Recce Jet Down Near Syria (updated)

Well, this is interesting. A Turkish RF-4E Phantom photo-reconnaissance fighter has apparently gone missing near Turkey’s border with Syria on the Mediterranean coast. RUMINT is spreading that the jet was shot down by Syrian government forces.

UPDATE: Reports are emerging saying the jet was indeed shot down by Syrian forces.

While the BBC is reporting that it was an F-4 Phantom that went down, it should be noted that the Turkish air force only fies the RF-4E recce version of the legendary — and ancient — fighter.

Remember, Turkey is a NATO state and members of the alliance are already providing aide to the Syrian rebels, (including the U.S., the CIA is apparently shipping them weapons).

This RF-4E could well have been gathering intel on Assad’s troops when it was shot down.

It’s also worth asking if this will warrant a heavier intervention by NATO forces on behalf of the rebels?

Here’s what the BBC is reporting.


Turkey’s government has called an emergency security meeting amid reports that one of its fighter jets was shot down by Syrian security forces.

The F-4 Phantom disappeared over the Mediterranean, south-west of Hatay province, not far from Syria’s coast.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was initially quoted as saying: “The other side have expressed regret”.

Later he could not confirm what brought the jet down but said rescue teams were searching for the crew.

“Regarding our pilots, we do not have any information, but at the moment four of our gunboats and some Syrian gunboats are carrying out a joint search there,” he said.

Relations between Turkey and Syria, once close allies, have deteriorated sharply since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

The Turkish military said it lost radio contact with the F-4 at 1158 (0858 GMT) on Friday while it was flying over Hatay, about 90 minutes after it took off from Erhac airbase in the province of Malatya, to the north-west.

The private news channel, NTV, later cited unnamed military sources as saying that the plane had crashed off Hatay’s Mediterranean coast, in Syrian territorial waters, but that there had been no border violation.

The Syrian coast guard was helping the Turkish coast guard, navy and air force search for the two crew members and the plane, NTV reported.

Witnesses in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia meanwhile told BBC Arabic that Syrian air defences had shot down an unidentified aircraft near the town of Ras al-Basit.

Click here for more.


    The Turkish airforce flies also a modified versio of F-4E (F-4E 2020 Terminator).

    • Nicky

      That’s what I like about F-4’s they are so reliable and rugged. The US Should have kept them for CONUS Guard Duty and keep the RF-4E as a tactical ISR bird

      • USSHelm

        Yeah, but in a dogfight they aren’t worth the JP-7 in ’em.

  • kski

    At least it was thiers and not ours. But it would have been better in the long run because it could single to the public that military action in the form of a couple of carrier, amphibious and expeditionary strike groups to be sent to the area to really start overthrowing the regime. Why do you think we spend billions on global capabilities. It makes absolute sense to take action were the navy with tools and know how and were already in the area!

    • DCP

      Because what we really need right now is a protracted land campaign in Syria. We spend trillions on defense so hopefully we don’t have to flex our muscle but can if needed. We don’t spend trillions on defense just to show off and wave our dick around “because we can”.

      I fail to see the strategic interest for the US in engaging in a protracted land campaign in Syria. That’s not to discount the humanitarian reasons, however strictly from a geo-political standpoint it makes no strategic sense. Invading/no fly zoning Syria is different from Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Russians and the Iranians can’t afford to let their biggest Mideast domino fall and won’t sit idly by.

    • Cuneyt

      You mother fuckers why don’t you move you badasses and come directly Turkiye for war! We are real warriors not trilloners.

      • Ian

        I haven’t seen Arab warriors yet…..seriousy…

      • Woody

        Wow …big talk from a 3rd century *******….be careful what you wish for, you just might get it….Arabs only know how to hide in the shadows and use women and children as sheilds…..go martyr yourself and do us all a favor….Achmed…..

    • Sarek T’pel

      because this kind of discussion I always conclude:
      There is not evil bigger than USA and NATO in world.
      Always using some excuse to invade some country…Always.

      • majr0d

        You’re an idiot. Here we are supporting Turkey and you’re whining. Incredible.

        Oh yeah NATO (and the US) was real bad keeping the Soviets out of your country for half a century. Stationing nukes and spy flights from your country was only to help the bad guys.

        How soon they forget…

  • Lance

    I agree the F-4 is Turkeys main heavy fighter. I do think possible the Syrians mad from yesterdays defection shot a RF-4 for being near Syrian air space. Who know now??

    • ziv

      I think they have around 240 F-16’s, and less than 160 F-4’s.

    • Nicky

      You gotta luv the F-4, It keeps going even in the face of 4th, 5th and 6th gen fighters. I would have kept the F-4Es for CONUS duty or even kept the RF-4E for ISR duty or even bring back the F-4G for wild weasel duty. It’s a rugged, reliable and combat proven bird. It’s the “World’s Leading Distributor of MiG Parts” it’s also known for “the triumph of thrust over aerodynamics.”

  • Benjamin

    Hope the pilots are still alive.
    I hope the Syrians were not dumb enough to risk a conflict with Turkey. Turkey alone could whoop there butts. With minimal NATO help it would be a route.

  • dfor

    I wonder whether or how NATO’s Article 5 would apply here…

  • FormerDirtDart

    Can one Turkish RF-4E in 2012 equal the USS Maddox and USS Turner Joy in 1964?

  • matt

    I wonder why there are reports made public about the CIA arming the rebels, did our dearest leader once again inform the media top secret information for the sake of his re-election bid?

    • majr0d

      The truth hurts sometimes.

  • Turkey drew up plans for a security buffer zone in northern Syria at the end of last year. And the rumour mill has been increasingly contemplating a first-strike bombing campaign against Syria over the last couple of months, particularly after the cross border shootings into Turkey and the deployment of Syrian Scuds -including five chemical weapon capable missiles- to the border region. It appears that Turkey has only held back from intervention to give the Syrian parties an opportunity to take up the increasingly irrelevant Annan peace plan. It seems likely that there’ll be some Turkish military event soon, but I doubt all out war.

    • Thunder350

      After this incident it intervention is only a matter of when, not if. Unless Obama tries to force a pause until AFTER the election here at home.

  • Thunder350

    Turkey has called for a emergency meeting to discuss what has happened.

    Article 5 of the NATO treaty states.

    “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

    Turkish Prime Minister said in a statement earlier today, “Turkey believes it was indeed Syria that shot down its fighter jet and that the pilots have yet to be found. Most ominously, that Turkey would respond decisively once it had established exactly what took place today”

    It’s only a matter of time until the bombs start dropping and we free the Syrian people of this brutal, illegitimate leader and give them the freedom they been asking for international intervention for.

  • GTown Fan

    Here’s food for thought. The F-4E is an older airframe, probably not the model that the Turkish air force would use when facing a peer air defenses. Would it be possible that the plane was sent on this mission, not with the intention that it’ll be shot down, but with that possibility in mind.

    If Assad was moving into the neighborhood around Aleppo / near the Turkish border, Turkey may have wanted to warn off Assad by aggressive patrolling near the border. Incidentally, aggressive patrolling using an airframe whose loss won’t be critical.

    • blight_

      I think the point was that the Turks weren’t interested in a fight, hence the RF-4. If they wanted to attack, they would’ve used F-16’s and their F-4E/2020’s or F-4E/TM’s.

      Maybe the Turks should’ve used their UAVs. Yes, they have UAVs…

    • andy

      Turkish airplane was an RF-4E which a version of intleligence and ground radar emmision logging. The primary target was to search and identify possible Russian military surface to air equipment , entered the later days into the Serian field. Assad after the event stated they regret shot down the Turkish plane, fact they wish to had been avoided !!! Porbably this statement means: “We wish to had under control the Russian user of the ground to air missile equipment ”

  • Scott C-P


    Yeah, F-4Es have all been undergoing upgrades to airframes and avionics, both turkey’s the F-4E 2020s and and RF-4Es

  • Lance

    Wonder if a SA-10/20 or a MiG-29 shot it down???

  • Nate

    Please…Turkey may be a NATO member, but they are not a NATO state in any other real sense.

    • Can D

      What would real sense be? Turkey was part of numerous NATO missions. Besides holding up the whole of the Southern Flank on its own against the Warsaw Pact, Korea was one where you should really find a US veteran and ask them about the Turks. Turkey had ground, sea and air assets in front lines in Bosnia & Kosovo and more recently Turkey has about 1200 strong force in Afghanistan.

      I think you should read up on your history before throwing up comments with a racist slur.

    • tiger

      That made zero sense.

  • Cuneyt

    You mother ****ers why don’t you stop playing games and move your bigasses come directly Turkiye for fight if you really want it! We are the real warriors. Not like Iraq nor Iran etc.

    • Rapier975

      Cool your jets, fool. Everyone here is supportive of Turkey in this situation. Calling us MFers and boasting about how you are not Iraq, and real warrior and all that is pointless. Look to your actual enemies before challenging your friends.

    • BRIC Together

      Man, there is not evil bigger than United States in the world today.
      Always using some shit excuse to invade some country…Always.

      Some fo them are hypocrite, others naive…But dont matter what they say or what they think, americans are the bad guys.

    • Woody

      What a big mouth from an Arab…he has no idea the ruin that he would be in for…..jeez…

  • majr0d

    Not believing this was a mistake. It was a message.

    ANY support the rebels are getting is through Turkey. Assad is trying to intimidate the only nation through which supplies can get to the rebels.

    Problem is Turkey is exercising a more independent and active foreign policy. Turkey IS going to retaliate. Probably not a full out intervention but Assad could be trying to provoke one as a short term solution to the rebels.

    We will not get directly involved. Likely Nato won’t either. More lead from behind action.

    • Oppervlakkig

      Too bad for you your theory does not fit with the language the two countries are displaying. Turkey sort of admits the plane was flying in Syrian airspace. Syria says that when they realised it was a Turkish plane, they offered support for the S&R.

      If Turkey was preparing for a retaliatory strike, it would have needed public support, which you don’t create by admitting you may have been the one who was in the wrong. The rhetoric would have been very hostile, which it just isn’t.

      • majr0d

        “Turkey’s president says his country would take the “necessary” action against Syria, a day after Damascus said it had shot a Turkish military plane that had entered its air space.

        Syria and Turkey have expelled each other’s ambassadors and Syria has accused Turkey of supporting Syrian opposition and even allowing Syrian rebels to operate out of Turkish soil. Turkey strongly denies the allegations.

        After a cross-border shooting by Syrian forces in April, Turkey said it would not tolerate any action that it deemed violating its security. The firing had left two refugees dead at a camp near the town of Kilis just inside Turkey.”

  • Sal

    I guess the author forgot about the 2020 terminator upgrade.

  • STemplar

    I would imagine Syrian IADS is on a hair trigger, concerned with the real possibility of a Balkans/Libyan style intervention. Given some of the ranges quoted I’m wondering if the the Turkish plane was or wasn’t inside Syrian air space. It was close either way.

  • jamesb

    I’m gonna agree this a/c was probably close or slightly IN Syrian airspace….Probably low enough not to have any space to jig away from a missile shot…..You have to know the Turks have been doing this regularly coming closer and closer….

    Turkey I image to put some hurt on the Syrian’s…
    But that’s NOT the question…

    The question is WHAT after that….
    I would image the Turks don’t want an ALL OUT shooting war…
    And I believe neither does NATO or the West for $$$ and manpower reasons….

    I wonder if they went right back to flyby’s?

  • jamesb

    I image COULD put some hurt on Syria……sorry

  • Roland

    I think the Syrian rebels have the right to self defense so as the Turkish pilots.

    • Roland

      I hope I said that right…

    • So?

      Yeah, the same right as Syrian pilots in Turkish airspace.

  • Cuneyt

    Not yet ignited. Why do you support my country? Because you like my brown eyes or to enlarge your lands? or to occupy another weak muslim country for democracy? I don’t need your support democracy nor trillions. I am well aware of everything happenning around us, and globally. Its like repeating extended play. I have no problem with the American citizens or its patriotics. My problem is who governs them hidded behind scene.

  • Sam

    Here’s an idea. Why don’t we keep out of other people’s business. Why do we always want to get into wars?
    Syria is Israel’s neighbor. Let them deal with it. They west gives Israel over 15billion dollars a year. Let them start earning it.

    • navy259

      Ummmm really bad idea, as Iran is a close ally of Syria. And they hate Israel more than any other country on the planet.

    • Skyepapa

      I would say Israel has demonstrated the hell out of their willingness and ability to defend themselves. This problem goes way beyond Israeli concerns.

  • LEP

    Turkey is pursuing its own geopolitical goals by targeting the undersea natural gas resources in the Eastern Mediterranean. Those do not stop at the exclusive economic zones of just Israel and Cyprus but may extend in Syrian sea space as well. These are the Turkish intentions and not the rescue of the innocent Syrian civilians that are being killed by the Assad regime. Nevertheless, the Turkish Air Force (THK) mission with one-two F-4E/RF-4E aircraft was an open provocation and replicated the almost weekly violations of Greek and Cypriot air space by armed THK aircraft. It is interesting to note that the THK command decided to carry out this mission while Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan was outside Turkey (the “independent thinking” of the Turkish military establishment). It is strange that the ECM-ESM-RWR equipment of the modernized F-4E/RF-4Es was not able to cope with the Syrian Soviet era SA-3 and SA-6 systems that have been modernized by the North Koreans.

    • stoop

      NK doesn’t have SA-6’s moron.

      • LEP

        The North Koreans modernized the Syrian detection and fire control radar systems that serve the Syrian SA-2, SA-3, and SA-6 batteries. Whether the North Koreans have or do not have SA-6s is totally immaterial to your non-factually based assessment to what I presented.

    • adamski

      I agree, it is very interesting the Syrians so effectively brought down a modernish western electronic warfare aircraft. Quite unexpected looking at the Turkish response, and again intersting he had to fly home from Brazil to take charge. Funny to see the western efforts to portray the defence of Syrian airspace as an aggressive act.

  • jamesb

    you can bet NATO has been ALL over the ‘incident’ trying to figure out WHAT and HOW this happened…..

  • jamesb

    everyone can cool your heels….

    from the LA Times….
    Syrian and Turkish officials moved to tamp down tensions Saturday in the wake of a Syrian shoot-down of a Turkish jet, as the two nations mounted a joint rescue operation seeking two pilots still missing in the eastern Mediterranean.

    The incident had the potential to escalate tensions between two neighboring countries, whose relations are already severely strained because of Turkey’s tacit support of the more than yearlong Syrian uprising against President Bashar Assad.

    But there was a notable lack of bellicose rhetoric Saturday emanating from both capitals, Ankara and Damascus, underscoring the extreme sensitivity and explosive potential of the incident…. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/world_now/2012/06

  • George F.

    RUMINT in Greece has it that there was a pair of RF-4s collecting intel on a Cypriot army exercise, they were given an order to do a low altitude fly-by off the Syrian coast as they were returning to base, to annoy the Syrians. Well the Syrians were annoyed alright, it is quite possible that AAA (not SAMs) got that bird, as it drifted too close to an important ‘undisclosed’ location, possibly a Pantsyr system.

  • alexbacha

    Os revolucionários devem ter todo o apoio do mundo civilizado. são verdadeiros heróis que deixaram de obedecer a um louco assassino e defender a honra do povo sírio. O mundo será bem melhor sem o Assad, a Rússia e a China e todos os malucos do mundo que ainda apoiam esse regime assassino.

  • blight_

    Well, if the Turks want U-2’s for “safer” overflights…?

  • Michael Ross

    That they haven’t poured over the border and retaken this core Ottoman territory months ago from the pathetic descendants of France’s lackeys just goes to show what a bunch of numpties have replaced the once great Ottoman Empire. Wouldn’t have taken two weeks and by the time the world would have cottoned on it’d be a fait accompli. Instead they’d rather ‘cool tensions’. Jordan is just as cowardly, so much for their Greater Syriac aspirations.

  • daj29152

    F-4’s rock!

  • Tim

    Who said the Turkish F-4 is actually Turkish? It could be a droned F-4 used to test Syrian air defence. Who made the drone… ahem… anyone?

    Anyways, interesting how silly posters are now flocking here to thump down America. If they are Syrians supporting Assad, they must sense time is up… Anytime now, not a single Russian missile battery, or the Russian Navy for that matter, could save Assad and his miserable regime.

  • Tribulationtime

    it will be better nuke-bombing right now, all rogue-states though that it can be our destruction too III W W NOW!!!. Yes we bomb. Dr. strangelove

  • majr0d

    Just reported, Syria fires on Turkish search/rescue plane.

    • Benjamin

      That is the dumbest move the Syrians could make. At minimum the Turks are now definitely well within there rights to bomb the Syrian air defense network in that area and public opinion will definitely be in Turkey’s favor

  • Thunder350

    Turkey says one of their search and rescue planes was fired upon, but upon warning from the Turkish military Syria ceased fire. Turkish deputy prime minister also said the first plane was a mile out in international airspace when it was hit. He also said they will push for Article 4 and Article 5 recognition at the NATO meeting tomorrow (Tuesday).

    Now lets see if the alliance can stand this test of their will power and support its allies.

  • orly?

    That whole Middle Eastern “Armageddon” thing is seeming more likely everytime the news comes up.

  • Cuneyt

    This is the 3rd world war sirenes. America is in the leading role that makes every movement to make chaos in Middle East. And we Turks are ready to position at the stage of this history and fight to the last drop of our bloods agaist whom have eye on our lands!

    • majr0d

      How is the US at fault? YOUR plane crossed into Syrian airspace. YOUR plane got shot down. Tomorrow YOUR country is going to ask for NATO’s help and chaos in the middle east is our fault?

      I think Syria is wrong. I also think you are just as wrong as they are to blame the US.

    • Benjamin

      Please, please show me factual proof not your opinon that the U.S. has any desire for Turkish lands? web addresses at least

  • Paul

    @Cuneyt is wrong about apportioning blame but he isn’t wrong about the US dabbling in the Middle East. Britain’s dissolution of Empire was flawed thanks to the interference by the US with Suez and the formation of Israel.

    One only has to look at the Dubya/Bliar show in Iraq to see the depth of America’s dabbling; never was WMD, but more that Saddam Hussein stuck two fingers up at the US administration. With America’s oil also under Iraq it was obvious what was going to happen.

    Luckily for Syria, their oil reserves are not great.

    On another point as you all damn Assad for what he’s doing just ask yourself what Obama, or in my case Cameron, would be doing if the same thing kicked off on their home grounds [we have both had past civil war too]. I suggest the same dirty thing.

    • majr0d

      Another “blame America/Britain first” nut.

    • STemplar

      These things wouldn’t happen in the US or UK because people are allowed a measure of say in their governments. We’ve also matured a little bit as a culture as well and by your logic if I thought your cave was better than mine I could bash your skull in and take and that’s just tough luck for you. Grow up.

      Also what I find so laughable in the anti Iraq war crowd and the ceaseless harping on oil as the motivation. It’s no secret. The US’s stated national security priority in the middle east for the last 40 years has always been the uninterrupted flow of oil.
      You are making pronouncements like you’ve discovered some Area 51 mystery.

  • Benjamin

    Gotta love conspiracy theorist. They could slip and fall and still find a way to blame the U.S. or Israel

  • Cuneyt

    Tell me what would you think if you find the helmet and boot of the pilot on the sea surface after the crash? 10 days later after the crash the pilot found dead. http://www.tsk.tr/3_basin_yayin_faaliyetleri/3_4_