Su-24 navigator rules out possibility of plane having entered Turkey

November 25, 2015 Igor Rozin, RBTH
No visual or radio warnings issued by Turkey, says co-pilot.
Rescued pilot of the Russian Air Force's Su-24 jet
Rescued pilot of the Russian Air Force's Su-24 jet, Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, center, answers journalists' questions at Khmeimim Air Base in Latakia. Source: Dmitriy Vinogradov/RIA Novosti

Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, flight navigator of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber downed by a Turkish fighter plane, said the plane could not have violated Turkish air space.

In an interview aired on the Rossiya 1 TV channel, he also said the Turkish missile had hit the plane suddenly and the crew had no way of dodging it.

"Of course, having carried out numerous flights there we knew the region like the backs of our hands. We were conducting our sorties and returning back to base following the predetermined route. I’m a navigator, I know every altitude there. I can guide the aircraft there blindfolded," he said.

Murakhtin said there were no visual or radio warnings issued by Turkey, in contrast to official statements from Ankara, which claims the plane was given multiple notifications.

"There were no warnings. Not via the radio, not visually. There was no contact whatsoever. That's why we were keeping our combat course as usual. You have to understand what the cruising speed of a bomber is compared to an F-16," said Murakhtin.

"If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by heading on a parallel course. But there was nothing. And the rocket hit our tail completely unexpectedly. We didn't even see it in time to take evasive maneuvers."

Murakhtin added that he wants to continue serving in the Russian aviation group in Syria.

"I can't wait until I get the all-clear from the medics, so that I can step back into the ranks. I'm going to ask our command to keep me on this base — I have a debt to repay, for my commander," he said.

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