Firstly, my apologies for this week’s late posting. I was laid up over the weekend with, to give it it’s official medical name, ‘The dreaded Lurghie’. For those unfamiliar with this medical term, in this instance it refers to a blinding headache and a desire to put my head in a bucket at regular intervals. Thank you, I am better now.
He said She said
We still don’t know exactly what happened when the Turkish F4 was shot down. The Syrians claim that they engaged the aircraft inside their airspace, whilst it was at low level and high speed. The surprise made identification impossible, and they opened fire with artillery that has a range of 2.5 km. They scored a hit at a range of 1 km and the aircraft crashed into the sea 10 km from the coast. Wreckage from the tail of the aircraft displays damage by artillery fire. Syria claims this took place at around 11:40 local time.
The Turks claim that the aircraft had left Syrian airspace and had climbed to 7400ft, 24Km from the Syrian coast when a missile destroyed it, either heat seeking or laser guided. Turkey claims this took place at 11:56 local time.
The Turks claim that the aircraft, when it entered Syrian airspace, was flying at 200ft and 300kts. The Syrians merely say ‘high speed’, but then claim the aircraft was flying at 330ft. They don’t say they worked this out later, so perhaps they were not as surprised as they claim to be. There was an unrepeated claim by the Syrians that the aircraft was engaged by non-radar guided artillery. A lucky hit then.
I’m not an ex-military pilot, I was a ‘civvy’ throughout a thirty year flying career, but my reaction on discovering I’d just flown into ‘foreign airspace’ which possessed sophisticated anti-aircraft defences and was in the middle of a civil war would have been to go very low and very fast, very bloody quick. Perhaps any ex or currently serving fast-jet military pilots would care to comment?
One thing in particular strikes me about the Syrian version. There are of course a lot of ‘maybes’ about this, but given the aircraft tail area was reportedly hit and the aircraft traveled 9 km before crashing, I might have expected that the crew would have had enough time to eject. The crew have not been found.
One thing in particular strikes me about the Turkish version. If, as seems possible, the system that destroyed the Turkish aircraft was a Pansir S1, NATO list the missile speed as mach 3. The aircraft would have been just within the systems effective range and the crew most likely would not have had time to eject, particularly as the missile component of the combined gun/missile system is designed to be used by firing two missiles simultaneously. The crew have not been found.
Then of course there is the discrepancy of some sixteen minutes. It doesn’t take sixteen minutes to fly 24km and climb to 7400 feet.
Am I being overly cynical if I thought the F4 was dispatched for a not so discrete ‘look-see’ with the thought that it might get shot down. “Such brave chaps, died for their country. Give them both a lot of medals, state funeral if we get the bodies back and make sure the widows get an enhanced pension.”
One other little fact that nobody has commented on, the Hatay region of Turkey, which is basically where all this took place, is claimed by Syria. Naturally, Turkey disputes this.
Why Turkey wants a war
Surely not, I hear you cry. OK, try this for size.
Assad went from hero to zero fairly rapidly as far as Turkey was concerned. It’s interesting that they weren’t bothered by Assad suppressing the Sunni majority, until the Sunni majority started protesting about it. But even then, it wasn’t until it became clear that the Syrian Kurds were sitting on the sidelines of the soon-to-be civil war, that Turkey started demanding that Assad embrace change and democracy. A bit rich coming from Turkey, but that’s an aside.
The thing about the Syrian Kurds is whilst not exactly rabid Assad supporters they are not particularly fond of the Sunnis either. So much so, that in the Syrian Kurdish areas, there was a sort of militia in existence that didn’t bother Assad as long as he didn’t bother them. As the Sunni revolt gathered steam, Turkish Kurds, notably the PKK, sent arms and men into the Syrian Kurdish area. They refused to let the FSA (Free Syrian Army) conduct any operations in their area, which left Assad free to deploy his troops elsewhere. Should Assad win the civil war, most likely he would not retaliate against the Kurds as largely they do not support the revolt. Should the FSA win then they won’t be best pleased with the Kurds, but then truth be told they don’t like them much anyway. The Turkish fear is that there is no real winner in the civil war and Assad goes for plan B, a separate Alawite state. The Turkish Kurds will not see the Syrian Kurds attacked by the Syrian Sunnis without trying to help, which could mean trouble for Turkey from both the PKK and their own Alawite minority. The longer the civil war drags on, the more likely Assad’s plan B becomes.
The answer? Assad must go sooner rather than later. There are three ways that this can be achieved
I. Persuade the Russians to dump Assad. OK, there are two ways this can be achieved
II. Turkey removes Assad. A bit risky militarily, given the Syrian Forces Russian equipment (and advisers).
III. Persuade NATO that Syria has attacked Turkey.
To this (III.) end Turkey has beefed-up defences along the border in the Hatay province, the one that Syria claims. They have announced that they will treat any Syrian military approaches to the border as hostile and Turkish forces might engage them. Note, they will not be regarded as potentially hostile but actually hostile, and they only have to approach the border not cross it.
“Well M’lud, my client broke Mr Smith’s legs and burned down his house because Smith looked at him in a threatening manner. It was clearly a case of self-defense.”
In the last twenty-four hours, Syrian helicopters came with 4 miles of the border, on their own side, and Turkey scrambled fighter aircraft. NATO is going along with this.
Dear Old Vladi is playing a stunner of a game. A mixture of Goebbel’s ‘tell a big enough lie often enough and people believe it’ school of diplomacy and Stalin’s ‘push it to the brink’ school of give America the finger at any opportunity. Below a selection of comments made by Soviet, sorry, Russian government officials and ‘private’ individuals. Of course, they’re all perfectly free to speak their minds. Obviously, the commander in chief of the Russian navy has got it all wrong.
“Syria is the only country in the Middle East which follows our advice, this is the country where we can exercise certain tangible influence. Of course, the loss of Syria will mean we will have no influence in this region at all. It has some symbolic value for the Russian authorities and the foreign policy establishment as a sign of Russia as a great power.” Ruslan Pukhov.
Symbolic value? Losing your only remaining client state in the region would certainly be symbolic of something.
“This is not about Kalashnikovs or helicopters. This is about very dangerous things near our door. This area is very close to my country and we’d like to avoid any kind of aggression from abroad. Otherwise it may become a hot point on the map near our borders.” Andrei Klimov, deputy head of the Russian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
‘Near our borders’ might be stretching it a bit. What he meant was ‘we’ve already had a gutful of Muslim Fundamentalists in Chechnya. An Islamist government in Syria would only agitate things again.
“Tartus is not a real naval base. It’s just a point on the map to replenish food and water and carry out some occasional repairs. There are a maximum of 50 Russian sailors and specialist technicians there. It’s just a symbolic place after the collapse of the Soviet Union showing we still have somewhere to send our ships. From a strategic point of view it is insignificant.” Ruslan Aliev, head of information at the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST) in Moscow.
Vik, maybe you and Ruslan should talk.
Video footage taken on a recent visit (to Tartus) by Russian journalists shows a sleepy, half-deserted port with ageing Russian trucks, an officer’s overgrown orchard and a few decrepit supply hangars. From a recent BBC report
The dear old Beeb seem to have fallen for the Russian take on this hook, line and sinker. And I thought all the aging pinkoes had retired to Brighton.
“We in Russia have no illusion about this regime. The only thing we’d like to have is a peaceful exit. We don’t want to prolong this regime for decades or centuries. Our task is to find a peaceful solution as soon as possible.” Russian MP Andrei Klimov.
He continued, “I have a spectacular bridge for sale on the Dnieper…..
OK, well that’s my take on it.
What’s your take on my take? Right, wrong or barking mad?
After getting lost in your F4, but succeeding in ‘getting the hell out of Dodge’ before being blown out of the sky you would:
A) Keep going bloody low and bloody fast for about 100 miles.
B) Immediately climb and turn yourself into a sitting duck.
Answers in the comments section.