A Su-25 jet of the Armenian Air Force was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter in the airspace of the Republic of Armenia, Spokesperson for the Armenian Defense Ministry Shushan Stepanyan informs.
F-16 fighter jets belonging to the Air Force of the Republic of Turkey took off from Ganja Airport of the Republic of Azerbaijan at 10:30 am today and were assisting SU-25 fighters and Turkish-made Bayraktar UAVs in the missile strikes on Vardenis, Mets Masrik, Sotk regions of the Vardenis region of Armenia.
Turkey’s F-16 fighter jet bombed settlements and ground troops of the Armenian Armed Forces around the area of Vardenis between Lake Sevan and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.
An air battle ensued involving the Armenian air force and anti-air units against the Turkish warplane, but the latter successfully targeted and hit the Armenian jet.
“Unfortunately, the pilot died heroically,” the Armenian Unified Infocenter said.
“The Turkish F16 was around 60km deep into Armenian territory and flying at an altitude of 8200 meters,” the Infocenter added.
The official Twitter account of Armenia also wrote:
“Armenian Su-25 was shot down by a Turkish F-16 that took off from the Ganja airbase in Azerbaijan.”
It is known that Turkish F-16 jets were deployed to Ganja Airbase in July/August under the pretext of joint exercises, but remained there. A week ago they were seen flying over Ganja city by locals.
Turkey, which is backing Azerbaijan in the conflict, has denied the claim
Turkey’s communications director Fahrettin Altun said: “Armenia should withdraw from the territories under its occupation instead of resorting to cheap propaganda tricks.”
Azerbaijan’s defense ministry also denied that a Turkish fighter jet had shot down an Armenian plane.
Any such incident would mark a potentially major escalation of conflict in the South Caucasus region.
Yerevan has not yet activated the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), but the topic is being discussed on the back of reports that a Turkish F-16 shot down an Armenian Su-25, said Armenian Ambassador to Russia Vardan Toghonyan.
The CSTO is a Russian-led alliance that is similar to NATO in the sense that there is a collective defense agreement.
Along with Armenia and Russia, the CSTO also comprises of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
By Armenia activating CSTO, Russia could be dragged into the conflict and face off against NATO-member Turkey.