Azerbaijan denies having access to American-built F-16 warplanes, refutes Armenian claims of downed jet over Nagorno-Karabakh
Armenia had earlier warned it will deploy tactical missiles if the jets are used. “The Azerbaijani Air Force does not have F-16 fighter jets,” Vagif Dargyahly, a spokesman for the country’s Defense Ministry, told Russia’s Interfax news agency on Tuesday morning.
The military official was apparently taking a swipe at Armenian President Armen Sarkissian, who accused Turkey of directly providing Baku with the American-built warplanes a day earlier.
Also on Monday, the leader of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, Arayik Harutyunyan, alleged that local forces had shot down what he said was a Turkish F-16. Dargyahly dismissed his claim, describing it as “lies and provocation,” and adding, “you can’t destroy what doesn’t exist.”
There is no credible information in the public domain indicating that Azerbaijan has ever received a delivery of the US-made jets. Known data shows the Azerbaijani Air Force heavily relies on Soviet- and Russian-made weaponry, with MiG-29 jets forming the backbone of its fighter fleet.Also on rt.com Armenia warns it will deploy Russian-made Iskander missiles if Turkey uses American-built F-16 jets in Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Yerevan has previously threatened that all military options are on the table, including the deployment of ‘Iskanders’, Russian-built tactical missiles, if Turkey used F-16s to support Azerbaijan’s cause in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The stern warning came after both belligerents traded accusations of recruiting Syrian militants to fight in the mountainous region, which is de facto controlled by ethnic Armenians but considered to be part of Azerbaijan’s territory under international law.
Meanwhile, Baku has repeatedly argued that Turkey is not involved in any hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, officials in Ankara have publicly supported the Azerbaijani cause, pledging “full support” and calling on Yerevan to vacate the “occupied” lands.
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