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Turkey decides to retire ageing fleet of RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft after three crashes

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World Defense & Security News - Turkey
 
 
Turkey decides to retire ageing fleet of RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft after three consecutive crashes
 
Turkey will decommission its aging RF-4E Phantom fighter jets as of Thursday after three planes consecutively crashed down in two-week time, Turkish Air Force Commander Gen Abidin Unal said Wednesday, March 11. Eight U.S. made RF-4E jets, remained in the Turkish Air Force's inventory, would be terminated after making their final flights on Thursday, Unal said in a news conference at military base in Eskisehir where a press briefing was held to inform about the jets.
     
Turkey will decommission its aging RF-4E Phantom fighter jets as of Thursday after three planes consecutively crashed down in two-week time, Turkish Air Force Commander Gen Abidin Unal said Wednesday, March 11. Eight U.S. made RF-4E jets, remained in the Turkish Air Force's inventory, would be terminated after making their final flights on Thursday, Unal said in a news conference at military base in Eskisehir where a press briefing was held to inform about the jets.
Turkish Air Force's RF-4E reconnaissance aircraft
     
More advanced F-16 fighter jets would be used in place of flying reconnaissance missions, Unal said.

Two RF-4E jets crashed in a training exercise in the eastern province of Malatya on Feb. 24, killing four pilots.

In a second accident, an F-4 fighter jet, modernized version of RF-4, crashed in the central Anatolian province of Konya, leaving two Turkish pilots dead.

Accidents prompted public debate on aging jets which were first purchased in the 1970s. The RF-4E aircraft was expected to remain operational until the end of 2015, but the accidents have changed inventory plans of the military.

Turkey received its first batch of RF-4Es in 1980, followed by 32 ex-German air force examples in 1993. Between 2009 and 2011, 16 of the aircraft were modernised by the air force's 1st Supply & Maintenance Centre, bringing them up to the RF-4E/TM standard.

Turkey plans to replace the RF-4E's capabilities with Lockheed Martin F-16s carrying UTC Aerospace Systems DB-110 digital reconnaissance pods. Three of the sensors have been received so far for use by 142 Sqn, located at Akinci/Ankara air base.