November 25, 2015
The navigator of the Russian Su24 shot down by a Turkish fighter jet on Tuesday insists that his
plane did not cross into Turkey’s airspace, and says he was given no visual or radio warning before
being fired at.
“It’s impossible that we violated their airspace even for a second,” Konstantin
Murakhtin told Russia’s Rossiya 1 channel. “We were flying at an altitude of 6,000
meters in completely clear weather, and I had total control of our flight path
As well as denying Ankara’s assertions that the plane was in Turkey’s airspace, Murakhtin also
refuted Turkish officials’ claims that the pilots were warned repeatedly.
“In actual fact there were no warnings at all. Neither through the radio, nor visually,
so we did not at any point adjust our course. You need to understand the
difference in speed between a tactical bomber like a Su24, and that of the F16. If
they wanted to warn us, they could have sat on our wing,” said Murakhtin, who is
currently recuperating at Russia’s airbase in Latakia, northern Syria.
“As it was, the missile hit the back of our plane out of nowhere. We didn’t even
have time to make an evasive manoeuver.”
As the plane was hit and went down in Syria, the two pilots ejected. Captain Sergey
Rumyantsev was killed, with a rebel Turkmen brigade claiming they shot him to death
while he was still parachuting.
Murakhtin was extracted in a 12hour joint operation by Russian and Syrian special
forces, in which a Russian Marine died.
The 39yearold airman, who won the Top Navigator award at Russia’s biggest military flying
competition last year, says he will ask to return to frontline service as soon as he is declared fit.
“I must ‘pay back’ the debt for my captain,” said Murakhtin.