A Russian military Il-20 surveillance aircraft flying over the Mediterranean Sea with 14 service members on board went off the radars during an attack by four Israeli F-16 fighter jets on Syria’s Latakia province, RT reported citing the Russian Defense Ministry.
The plane was reportedly 35 kilometers off the coast of Syria when it vanished and was returning to the Khmeimim airbase in Syria.
Air traffic controllers at the Khmeimim Air Base “lost contact” with the aircraft on Monday evening, during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia, said the MOD statement.
The Ilyushin 20 (IL-20) surveillance turboprop plane is an Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) platform, equipped with a wide range of antennas, infrared and optical sensors. The aircraft’s SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) and the plane’s satellite link allows the Russian military to monitor Syrian skies in real time.
According to a US official with knowledge of the incident, the aircraft was inadvertently shot down by Syrian regime anti-aircraft artillery on Monday after the Syrians came under attack by Israeli missiles.
An hour-long attack on Latakia began around 10 pm local time, and targeted a power station as well as two facilities belonging to the Syrian military. Syrian officials said the attack was “foreign” and came “from the sea,” but could not initially confirm rumors that Israel was behind it. Seven people were injured in the attack, according to Syrian officials.
There has been also reports of launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean on the evening of September 17.