Turkish pilot dies in jet crash near Syria border

The pilot of a Turkish F-16 fighter jet has been found dead after the aircraft crashed near the Syrian border, the military said late Monday, without providing details of the plane's mission.

"The debris of the jet and the pilot's body have been recovered," according to a military statement published online.

"The cause of the accident will be made public after the investigation."

The military had earlier said the pilot took off from an airbase in Merzifon in northern Turkey and last communicated with the base while "on mission in the Amanos mountains" near the Syrian border.

The accident came two days after a twin car bombing killed at least 50 people in the town of Reyhanli, along the Syrian border, which Turkish authorities blame on groups close to the Damascus regime.

The Milliyet newspaper said the airbase in Merzifon hosts the only Turkish squadron with capabilities to suppress enemy surface-based air defenses and anti-aircraft artillery, known as the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) mission.

The squadron is equipped with American air-ground AGM-88 HARM missiles designed to detect, attack and destroy radar and communication systems, including air defence positions, it added.

by Stephen Collinson © 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: May 14, 2013