Last night, two McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom IIs of the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri crashed during a training exercise. Sadly, according to the Turkish General Staff, all four crew members were killed in the incident.

“Search operations were immediately started. At 2045 the wreckage of our two planes was discovered and unfortunately four pilots have been martyred,” according to the statement released by TGS.

The two aircraft, both “RF” variants assigned to 173 Squadron and configured for tactical reconnaissance, took off from Malatya 7 Main Jet Base in the evening hours ahead of their scheduled night training. Contact was lost not long after they took off and both airplanes came down less than one hundred miles from the Syrian border.

Turkey, with the second largest armed forces in all of NATO, plays an active, vital role in patrolling the northern borders with both Iraq and Syria. No official reasons for the crashes were given, although Turkish Interior Minister Efkan Ala ruled out “outside intervention” and said the aircraft either collided mid-air or severe weather in the area somehow contributed.

Of the eighteen RF-4E/TM jets in its inventory, four of the total have crashed, including one shot down over the Mediterranean Sea by the Syrian Air Force back in 2012.

(Featured Photo Courtesy of the Turkish Air Force)