Regardless of what happened to our F-4 jet, I should remind readers of a general principle at the beginning of my article: Truth is always one. The best explanation of an incident is the truth as it stands. When truth for some reason cannot be shared with the general public in its entirety, theses or scenarios designed to serve as a veil to hide the truth are used. However, no such thesis or scenario can ever replace the truth. This is because no thesis or scenario that is designed to obscure the truth can be as powerful, consistent or convincing as the truth. And there is also the tendency for the truth to be revealed sooner or later. We will see when the truth being obscured about the crash-landed/downed F-4 will be revealed.
Turkey claims that the F-4 in question was shot down by Syria with a missile 8.5 miles off Syria’s airspace, i.e., international airspace. The beam of infrared light detected by the radar at 11:56:08 on June 22, 2012 is provided as evidence that the jet exploded as a result of a missile hit. That the jet’s wreckage was discovered at the coordinates where the radar detected the infrared light with an error margin of just 0.3 miles is considered verification of the radar data. Considering the fact that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime has already conceded that they shot down the plane with anti-aircraft gunfire, Ankara is “fully convinced” that the jet was shot down by Syria (but with a missile), or it wants everyone to believe this story.
As it is already justifiably treating most statements made by the Assad administration as lies, Ankara sees this “anti-aircraft gunfire” part of Syria’s statement as another lie. But for some reason, it wants to latch onto Syria’s statement that “the jet was downed by Syria” as if it were a concrete truth. The thesis that the jet was shot down with a missile is based on the radar detecting a beam of infrared light and Syria’s statement that they shot down the jet. All other information and evidence that may refute this claim is insistently ignored.
I will discuss this evidence later. But first let us remember what happened before the jet was downed, referring to Sedat Ergin’s article that appeared in Hürriyet newspaper on Saturday: “The jet takes off from Erhaç air base in Malaya at 10:30 on June 22, and flies toward Cyprus. It comes up to 40 kilometers to the north of Girne (Kyrenia) (at 11:06 -- altitude of 21,400 feet). At this point it turns northeast and goes to Hatay (11:23 -- 7,500 feet) and then, with a U-turn, it starts to fly southwest. When the F-4 reaches a point located between the south of Cyprus and the coast of Syria (11:37 -- 2,000 feet), it turns northeast with another U-turn.
“From this point onwards, the jet directly targets Syrian airspace, and it enters Syria’s 12-mile airspace at 11:42 at an altitude of 200 feet, i.e., 70 meters. According to the General Staff’s statement, it stays in this airspace for exactly five minutes. It exits this airspace at 11:47 and directly enters the Turkish airspace to the west of Hatay. The interesting thing about the map published by the General Staff is that after entering Syrian airspace, the jet turns its direction, directly heading for the coast. The jet’s course on this map is tangent to a peninsula on the Syrian coast. It is clear that F-4 jet approached to about 1.5 miles of the Syrian coast. So far is the first test flight by the jet … after it enters the Syrian airspace, we see that it deliberately turns its direction toward the Syrian mainland. Five minutes can be considered as seriously long for a violation. [Anti-aircraft gunfire comes at this point. B.K.]
“After the violation, the jet commences on the second test flight upon instructions from headquarters. The second test flight starts from Hatay, and the jet flies from northeast to southwest in international airspace, on a parallel course to the previous profile that had ended in a violation. … It is 11:56 when the jet is in its ‘stable final point’ as detected by Turkish radar on its second flight. Its altitude is 7,400 feet. One minute later, at 11:57, the Turkish radar lost contact with the jet, 1.5 miles outside of Syrian airspace.
“Here is a very curious case. The coordinates when the jet commences on the violation at 11:42 in its first test flight are very close to the coordinates at which it is lost at 11:57 on its second test flight. This proximity is easily visible in the General Staff’s map. On the map, we see that this region is 30-40 kilometers to the northwest of the Latakia port, which is Syria’s most important naval base and which is the destination of major arms shipments from Iran and Russia to Syria. Given the fact that F-4s are particularly used for reconnaissance, i.e., intelligence gathering purposes, this proximity suggests that the jet’s mission might be to take images of the Latakia port. However, the official statement by Turkey that ‘the jet was testing the performance of our radars in the region’ points at another direction. ...
“Here, we should assume that the violation is part of a premeditated mission. When we assume that the violation has taken place as part of an order, then we need the answer as to who gave this order. Has this violation been made solely on a decision taken by the Air Forces Command/the General Staff? Or has the civilian authority given approval to it? This is another question to which the general public is expecting an answer.”
This is how Ergin sums up the incident. Now let us discuss the show-stopping information and findings that are being ignored. Three possibilities are cited as reasons for how the jet was downed: entering a turbulent area, suffering from a technical fault or being hit by a missile. For some reason, Ankara automatically eliminates the first two reasons and exhibits no doubt about the deliberate downing of the jet. And it further claims that the missile was not radar-guided but heat-seeking. However, unfortunately, nothing -- not the boots and helmets belonging to the pilots that were found in the sea, nor the findings about 10 percent of the wreckage recovered by research boat Nautilus and video images covering 70 percent of the wreckage, nor the autopsy results of the bodies of the pilots, which remain integral -- offers any explanation in support of this thesis. Indeed, neither the parts of the wreckage recovered nor the corpses nor the boots and helmets exhibit any trace of inflammable chemical or sign of potential destruction caused by an explosion or burning.
Apparently, as this would be easily verified by the radars of other countries, it is not argued that the jet was hit by a radar-guided missile; instead, it is argued that it was shot down by a heat-seeking missile. However, in terms of the magnitude of destruction they would cause and the traces they would leave, there is no significant difference between the two types of missiles. Already the odd part of the story is that Turkey continues to insist that the jet was hit by a missile, although this is not verified by any information or finding obtained.
This creates serious concerns for me. I fear the wreckage recovery work, paused citing the “psychological problems” of Nautilus and “capacity limits” of the vessel, may never resume. This is because every new part of the wreckage recovered may deal a fatal blow to Turkey’s thesis that the jet was shot down.
On the other hand, it would be best if Ankara stops hiding whatever it is attempting to conceal and announces the real reason for the aircraft’s crash-landing. This F-4 incident is increasingly becoming like the Uludere scandal -- in which 34 civilians were mistaken for terrorists and killed by military airstrikes in Şırnak’s Uludere district, due to false intelligence -- and as long as the government continues to obscure the truth about it, it will create an ever-deepening crisis of trust in the general public. People have not started to ask questions about why the jet made a low-altitude flight for a second time in the same region for a mission the purpose of which is being kept secret, or who was responsible for causing them to do so. But this does not mean that they won’t start to ask.