Turkish F-16s shot down a Syrian MiG-23 that is said to have crossed over into Turkish airspace, reported Reuters. “A Syrian plane violated our airspace,” Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said during an election rally in northwest Turkey. “Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? Because, if you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard.” Syrian rebels have been battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the same area as they attempt to gain control of the border crossing, reported Reuters. The Syrian government said the jet was pursuing rebel fighters inside of Syria, calling the attack “blatant aggression,” states the report. The pilot ejected before the plane crashed some 1,300 yards inside Syrian territory, reported Reuters. Six months earlier Turkish forces shot down a Syrian helicopter that crossed into Turkish airspace in the same border area. Turkey, which was once Assad’s ally, is now a “fierce critic” of the Assad regime and has “sheltered and supported rebels battling to overthrow him,” states the report.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.