Two Turkish F-16s on border patrol engaged two Russian Su-24 jets near the Turkish-Syrian border and shot one of them down, Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren confirmed Tuesday. Turkish officials said the Russian aircraft violated Turkey’s airspace, but Russian officials say the jet was flying at 6,000 meters “only within the borders of the Syrian territory,” according to a Russian release. Russia reported the pilots were able to eject from the aircraft and video of the incident showed two pilots parachuting out of the plane. However, a deputy commander of rebel forces in Syria said his troops shot both pilots as they descended, Reuters reported. NATO officials in Brussels told Reu?ters the plane did enter Turkish airspace, but said diplomats were concerned that the Turkish aircraft didn’t simply escort the jet back to Syrian airspace. Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a “blow in the back by the accomplices of terrorists,” referencing Turkey’s support of rebels fighting the Bashar al Assad regime. Pentagon and White House officials have repeatedly called on Russia to switch tactics and focus its strikes on ISIS targets instead of almost exclusively supporting Syrian regime fighters. In a video teleconference from Baghdad, Warren confirmed Turkish reports that the Russian pilots were warned 10 times and never responded. The pilots did not issue a mayday call, Warren said. The Turkish General Staff said the “F-16s’ response was in line with rules of engagement,” according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.
It’s hard to know why the F-35 Block 4 upgrade's cost—now $16.5 billion and rising—is going up because it is mixed with the rest of the program, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report.