While circumstances of the recent shoot-down of the Russian SU-24 by a Turkish F-16 in the border region of Turkey and Syria remain murky, this is best analysis that I have seen to date. Be warned, however: I am biased, both the interviewer and the interviewee are good friends of mine. The map below may help you to follow the discussion.
“Looking at the detailed Russian timeline of what happened,” says defense analyst Pierre Sprey, “I’d say the evidence looks pretty strong that the Turks were setting up an ambush.”
By Andrew Cockburn, Harpers, December 4, 2015
Here’s the crucial thing. They were not loitering up at high altitude—say twenty to thirty thousand feet—to conserve fuel, which is where you would normally be loitering if you were simply doing a routine border patrol. They were loitering quite low, at about seven thousand five hundred to eight thousand feet, which, first of all, is below the coverage of the Syrian and Russian radars that were down around Latakia, and which is a very fuel-inefficient altitude to loiter. You suck up a lot of gas down at those low altitudes
Phi Beta Iota: We find Pierre Sprey’s analysis compelling. Turkey — probably with explicit concurrence from US General Breedlove at NATO — commited an act of war with malice aforethought. The misbehavior of the US and Turkey is now at a level where international war crimes and tribunal proceedings should be considered.