Comparing a Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer to a Lockheed-Martin F-16 Viper (Fighting Falcon for the nerds at home) is like comparing a heavy duty, ¾-ton pickup truck to a Corvette on a road course. The results just aren’t pretty.

On Tuesday, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Su-24 after a pair of Fencers trundled into Turkish airspace during a mission in Syria. They were warned multiple times, but continued on until one of the aircraft made its way into Turkish airspace and was shot down by a flight of two Vipers in a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) nearby.

In the fighter community, we call that “Hubcapping.” It’s a reference to the old days when cars had hubcaps – a sharp turn would often times send a hubcap wheeling off into the curb as the car itself disappeared around the corner. So too is what the wingman did here. As the lead kept going into Turkish airspace, he “Hubcapped” his flight lead with a turn to the south to avoid taking a ride in the chute.

Turkish Air Force F-16D
A Block 50+ F-16D of the Turkish Air Force, armed with (inert) AIM-9X Sidewinders and AIM-120C AMRAAMs, takes off from Lockheed-Martin’s manufacturing plant in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons)

Thanks, two.

So the lone Fencer ended up just over a mile into Turkish airspace, where it reportedly stayed for seventeen seconds. That also means the Turks were calling “Fox 2” or “Fox 3”–reports are unclear as to whether it was an AIM-9X or AIM-120C–while the aircraft was still in Syrian airspace.

Was this ever a fair fight? Not really.

An Su-24 is an all-weather bomber. It was primarily designed for low altitude bombing, but upgraded versions can do electronic attack, reconnaissance and other missions. The aircraft in question, the Su-24M, features digital maps, helmet-mounted cueing, advanced navigation, and color multifunction displays (MFDs). It incorporates a swing-wing design and carries either AA-11 Archer or AA-8 Aphid air-to-air missiles, should it need to defend itself.

These two missiles are close-range, IR-only weapons. The Su-24 has no air-to-air radar, effectively eliminating it from the Beyond-Visual-Range (BVR) arena. Its missiles must lock on to a heat source on the opposing aircraft in order to be effective.