Moscow says all drones in Syria operate as planned as Turkey downs unidentified UAV
"All planes of the Russian Air Group in the Syrian Arab Republic have returned to the Hmeimim Airbase after completing their combat missions. Russian unmanned aerial vehicles conducting monitoring and aerial reconnaissance on the territory of Syria, are operating in the routine mode," Defense Ministry official spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov told journalists on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, Turkey's military said in a written statement that it downed an unidentified drone in Turkish airspace around 3km from the Syrian border.
The military added that it issued three warnings before shooting down the drone.
At the same time, a US official has told Reuters Washington suspects that the drone shot down by the Turkish military was Russian. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to provide further details saying that the information was still preliminary.
Several Turkish media have cited the Turkish military’s General Staff as saying that the drone is a Russian-made Orlan-10.
However, Russian manufacturer, St. Petersburg Technological Center, issued a statement refuting claims that the downed drone had been one of their models after seeing its photos published on social media.
“It’s definitely not an Orlan shown in the published photos. Russia doesn’t make UAVs with such gliders,” it said describing the incident as “a provocation.”
“The photos of the allegedly downed drone published on social media with reference to the Turkish General Staff look more like a poorly-stage informational provocation,” said a representative of the company.
The Orlan manufacturer also stressed that the UAV shown in the images could not have been downed by a jet as in that scenario the drone would have turned into “dust.”
“Who – and how – did the pilots of the Turkish fighter jets warn three times before downing this drone?” asked the company spokesperson stressing that it is practically impossible to spot such a small aircraft from a jet plane.
Russian airplanes previously violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on October 3. The incident prompted Turkey to scramble two F-16 jets. On October 5, Russia admitted making a mistake explaining that bad weather caused the warplanes to violate Turkey’s airspace. Ankara has accepted the matter, saying the same day that there is no ill feeling between the two countries.
Russia’s accidental excursion into Turkey - a NATO member state - prompted the military alliance to slam Moscow for what it deemed “irresponsible behavior.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gathered a meeting of bloc member states on October 5, following which it released a statement condemning the “incursions into and violations of NATO airspace."
In response to the criticism Russia’s envoy to NATO said on October that similar incidents have been previously “clarified through bilateral or military channels” adding that it’s “a common practice.”
NATO has ignored clarifications from Russia about the plane incident saying that all attempts to explain the reasons behind the incident fell on deaf ears, he said.
He also accused NATO of using the incident to “include NATO as an organization into the information campaign unleashed in the West, which perverts and distorts the purposes of the operation conducted by the Russian air forces in Syria.”
Khmeimim Airbase, located in Syria’s northwestern Latakia province, is the strategic center of Russia’s military operation against IS, launched on September 30.