Ceremony held for Turkish soldiers killed in jet crash
DHA PhotoA funeral was held Feb. 25 for the four Turkish jet pilots who lost their lives in a crash during a training exercise on Feb. 24 in the Eastern Anatolian province of Malatya.
The bodies of the four victims were sent to their hometowns after the ceremony at Erhaç Air Base in Malatya, where Chief of Staff Gen. Necdet Özel, Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz and the heads of air, land and naval forces were also present.
Relatives of the pilots were also brought to the ceremony by plane.
Contact was lost with the RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft after they took off from the Malatya air base for scheduled night training, according to a statement on the Chief of Staff’s website.
“Search operations were immediately initiated. At 8:45 p.m. the wreckage of our two planes was discovered and unfortunately four pilots have been killed in service,” the statement added. The reason for the crashes has yet to be reported.
The planes came down in Akçadağ district, more than 150 km (90 miles) north of the Syrian border.
Interior Minister Efkan Ala confirmed that four soldiers were killed in the incident, but did not elaborate on the reason of the crash.
National broadcaster NTV reported that an accident might have occurred during the two warplanes’ formation flight. Local eyewitnesses, however, cited bad weather conditions.
Turkey has the second largest armed forces in NATO and in recent years its fighter jets have played an active role in patrolling its troubled borders with neighboring Iraq and Syria. In 2012, the Syrian Air Force shot down a Turkish RF-4E over the Mediterranean.
Major Salih Sezer, Lieutenant Osman Onur Özkaya, Lieutenant Yasin Atalay and Lieutenant Zeynel Özgür Özbahçeci are the deceased.