UK Royal Air Force Jets Chase Away Syrian Warplanes Approaching Cyprus
UK Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter Jets chased away two warplanes believed to be Syrian flying towards Britain’s Akrotiri base in Cyprus.
A Ministry of Defense spokesman on Sunday confirmed the airborne confrontation, but classified the warplanes as “unidentified aircraft,” rather than officially identifying them as Syrian.
The spokesman said, “The MoD can confirm that Typhoon air defense aircraft operated from RAF Akrotiri on Monday to investigate unidentified aircraft to the east of Cyprus. The aircraft were flying legally in international airspace and no intercept was required. The RAF Typhoons were launched after sensitive airborne early-warning radar picked up the ‘contacts’ flying low and fast,” according to the UK’s Sunday People.
Radar alerts were triggered on Monday, ahead of the G20 summit in Russia, where U.S. President Barack Obama urged an international response to allegations that Syria used chemical weapons outside of Damascus last month.
Two Russian-made Sukhoi Su-24 bomber jets were identified approaching Akrotiri’s 14-mile air exclusion zone. The Sukhoi Su-24 is flown by the Syrian Air Force, assigned to the regime’s 819 squadron, and based at Tiyas air base, the newspaper said.
The two jets ignored attempts to make contact by the UK-manned control tower, which alerted the RAF. Typhoon fighters were deployed to make visual contact with the pilots of the planes. The newspaper said that as the Typhoons approached, the warplanes retreated. Two Turkish F-16s were also sent from the Incirlik air base, in Turkey, but arrived after the confrontation.
The British Typhoons are part of a squadron of six planes sent to Cyprus in anticipation of possible action against Syria, the newspaper said. It said, stationed at RAF Akrotiri, are two French Navy Atlantique spy planes and U.S. aircraft and special operations helicopters , while a Royal Navy Type 45 anti-aircraft destroyer is offshore.