Military Aviation

USAF F-16 shoots down armed Turkish drone over Syria in what is believed to be the first time the US has shot down a NATO ally’s aircraft

USAF F-16 shoots down armed Turkish drone over Syria

According to US officials, on Oct. 5, 2023 a US Air Force (USAF) F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet shot down an armed Turkish drone that was operating near American troops in Syria after several warnings.

According to ABC, the shootdown came after repeated communications to stay away from US ground troops near al Hasakah, in northeastern Syria.

This is believed to be the first time the US has shot down a drone from Turkey, which is a NATO ally. Nevertheless, tensions have flared and there have been close calls between the two nations: in 2019 in fact, US troops in northern Syria came under artillery fire from Turkish positions.

Given a suicide bombing that took place in Ankara on Oct. 1, 2023 Turkey has for the past several days been retaliating against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Syrian Democratic Forces – who partner with the US in the mission to defeat ISIS – are considered as an arm of the PKK by Turkey. Turkey deems the PKK a terrorist organization.

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Mission to defeat ISIS

As a part of the mission to defeat ISIS, the US fields about 900 troops.

Washington is holding diplomatic conversations with Ankara.

Noteworthy a Turkish defense ministry official said the drone did not belong to the Turkish armed forces but did not say whose property it was. He said the aircraft was shot down by a US-led coalition.

By contrast as reported by Reuters, The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and a local security source said the US-led coalition had shot down a Turkish drone near a base in northeastern Syria.

The incident comes at a delicate moment for US-Turkish relations, with the Washington hoping Ankara will ratify NATO membership for Sweden.

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force and Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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