Kurdish rebels’ “game-changing” downing of a Turkish attack helicopter with a Russian-made missile could further intensify still simmering hostilities between Ankara and Moscow.
Coming nearly six months after Turkish jets’ downing of a Russian bomber operating from a Syrian airbase, the May 13 incident made front-page news in Turkey. “It was a message to [the] government and public,” commented Metehan Demir, an independent defense analyst and former Turkish military pilot.
The missile featured in a Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) video of the attack “is a Russian-made SA18 or SA24,” he noted, using the North Atlantic Treaty Organization codenames for the shoulder-held, anti-aircraft missiles 9K38 Igla (“Needle”) and 9K338 Igla, manufactured since Soviet times in the Russian town of Kolomna.
Two pilots died in the crash, which Ankara initially attributed to a technical malfunction.
On May 19, the Turkish military stated that the helicopter “was hit probably by an unidentified missile fired from the ground by terrorists,” the term used for the PKK.
To read the full story
Dorian Jones is a freelance reporter based in Istanbul.