Sukhoi attack aircraft intercepted after infiltrating Israeli airspace; defense minister says jet crossed border in ‘threatening manner’
(SOURCE) The IDF shot down a Syrian fighter plane over the Israeli Golan Heights Tuesday using a Patriot missile, the army said.
The army said the plane had infiltrated Israeli airspace before it was shot down.
The plane was initially reported to have been a Russian-made MiG-21 fighter jet, but an IDF spokesperson later confirmed that it was a Russian-made Sukhoi-24 fighter jet.
The Su-24, a Cold War-era Soviet fighter, is one of the Syrian Air Force’s primary aircraft. A recent estimate by FlightGlobal.com said the SAF operated 19 Su-24 attack planes.
Syria confirmed the plane was hit and downed near Quneitra, near the Israel-Syria border, “in the framework of (Israel’s) support for the terrorist (Islamic State) and the Nusra Front,” Reuters reported.
A defense official said the Syrian jet penetrated 800 meters (2,600 feet) into Israeli air space and tried to return to Syria after the Patriot missile was fired.
The crew managed to abandon the plane in time and landed in Syrian territory, the Israeli official said.
It was the first such incident since the war with Lebanon in 1982, the official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
A video posted online Tuesday by the rebel-affiliated Syrian Media Organization claimed to show the jet being downed. It was impossible to immediately confirm the veracity of the video.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Tuesday in response to the incident that the Syrian plane approached Israeli territory in a “threatening manner” and crossed the border.
“We’ve clarified this in the past and we’re emphasizing it again now: We won’t allow anybody, whether it’s a state or a terrorist organization, to threaten our security and violate our sovereignty,” the defense minister and former IDF chief of staff said. “We will respond forcefully to all attempts of this kind, whether it’s an accident or intentional.”