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Navigator of Downed Russian Plane Says No Chance It Violated Turkish Airspace

  • 'I’m a navigator, I know every altitude there. I can guide the aircraft there blindfolded'
  • Also says they were hit out of the blue - without any warning given

Originally appeared at Russia Beyond the Headlines

Captain Konstantin Murakhtin, flight navigator of the Russian Sukhoi Su-24 bomber downed by a Turkish fighter plane, said the plane could not have violated the Turkish air space.

In an interview aired on Rossiya 1 television, he also said the Turkish missile had hit the plane suddenly and the crew had no way of dodging it.

"Of course, having carried out numerous flights there we knew the region like the backs of our hands. We were conducting our sorties and returning back to base following the predetermined route. 

I’m a navigator, I know every altitude there. I can guide the aircraft there blindfolded," co-pilot said.

Murakhtin said there were no visual or radio warnings issued by Turkey.

"There were no warnings. Not via the radio, not visually. There was no contact whatsoever. That's why we were keeping our combat course as usual.

"You have to understand what the cruising speed of a bomber is compared to an F-16. If they wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves by heading on a parallel course. But there was nothing.

"And the rocket hit our tail completely unexpectedly. We didn't even see it in time to take evasive maneuvers."

He added that he wants to continue serving in the Russian aviation group in Syria.

"I can't wait until I get the all-clear from the medics, so that I can step back into the ranks. I'm going to ask our command to keep me on this base — I have a debt to repay, for my commander."

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