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Turkey may have used NATO-compatible equipment and system to shoot down two Russian-made Su-24 fighter jets of the Syrian Air Force.
Turkey was able to bypass Russian closure of the airspace over Northern Syria by using the sophisticated air attack system which it set up as part of its NATO partnership to ensure compatibility.
According to Sinan Ülgen, the director of Turkish the Center for Economic and Foreign Policy Studies (EDAM), “The targets were most probably acquired by a Boeing 737 Airborne Early Warning & Intelligence (AEW&I) Plane. Turkey has four of these planes. Info was then communicated to the F16 – which had its own radars turned off to avoid detection – by a NATO compatible Datalink. It was then forwarded in real time to the air-to-air missile AIM 120.”
Syria has no early warning aircraft and relies on air defence systems such as the Pantsir-S for close-in air defence and the S-300s for distance target acquisition. Having an AEW&I can be major game changer in battle as it can track an enemy aircraft from the moment it takes off from an airfield and relay its speed, altitude and direction.
Turkey also has electronic attack aircraft which may have been deployed to cripple the Su-24’s antiquated communication systems.