Turkey could have downed 114 planes for airspace violations: Army
From online dispatches
Syrian armed forces anti-aircraft missile launchers are deployed during a live ammunitions exercise in an undisclosed location December 20, 2011. REUTERS photo
Turkey's air space has been violated 114 separate times so far this year but each instance was quickly resolved peacefully, the General Staff has said following Syria’s downing of a Turkish warplane for violating its airspace.
"We would have shot down 114 planes if every aircraft that violated a country's airspace were shot down without questioning," the General Staff said, according to daily Milliyet.
A majority of the violations were done by Greek aircraft, with Italian and Israeli aircraft also known to have violated Turkish air space this year. "Air space violations are incidents that happen almost every day, and are resolved in a matter of minutes within international law," the General Staff said in a statement.
Six airplanes violated Turkish airspace last week alone, the General Staff said, of which none were shot down and left Turkey's airspace after they were warned by Turkish personnel.
A violation of one to two kilometers is accepted as "natural" given the speed of aircraft, the statement said. This year's violations of Turkish airspace lasted between 20 seconds and nine minutes, which showed "airspace violations can be resolved by warning and interceptions," the statement said.
According to radar traces provided by the chief of General Staff, the Turkish F-4 jet that was downed on June 22 was hit 13 nautical miles off the Syrian coast in international waters but crashed in Syrian territorial waters. The records show that the Turkish jet unintentionally violated Syrian airspace at 11:42 a.m. for five minutes, 16 minutes before contact was lost with the jet. At 11:44 a.m. Turkish radars informed the jet that it had entered Syrian airspace and told it to leave as soon as possible.