Always good to get your timely updates.
FYI, small point, but I thought I would mention that the photo is of an F-15, not an F16. The F-16 has only one vertical fin, not two...
UPDATED 3:55 PM EDT (SEE BOTTOM) -- Russian jets reportedly intercept Israeli planes over Lebanon. Two Russian SU-34 planes challenged Two Israeli Air Force (IAF) F-16s in Tripoli, Lebanon’s skies AND FORCED THEM TO RETURN TO ISRAEL despite mechanism to avoid conflicts between Moscow and Jerusalem
There has been no official confirmation from Russia or Israel.
It was the first time in months that Russian planes had entered Lebanese airspace from Syria.
Israeli jets reportedly often fly over Lebanese airspace conducting reconnaissance missions. Reports have also said that many of Israel’s attacks on targets in Syria have been launched from Lebanese airspace.
Earlier this month Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had no reason to believe the Kremlin would try to limit Israel’s freedom of operation in the region. It now appears Netanyahu was wrong.
In light of the heavy Russian presence in Syria, Israel in September 2015 set up a mechanism with Moscow — involving work groups led by the deputy chiefs of both militaries — to avoid conflicts and potentially fatal misunderstandings.
However, senior air force official stressed that this system was limited: Israel does not inform the Russians before conducting airstrikes in Syria, nor does Russia let the Israelis in on its plans.
On Monday, Israel launched a missile attack upon Syria using F-16's over the Mediterranean Sea. Those F-16's intentionally operating very close to a much larger Russian IL-20 Electronic Intelligence aircraft, using that aircraft as a sort of radar cover.
When Syrian defenses opened fire to stop the inbound missile attack, they locked-onto the RUSSIAN plane and shot it down.
Russia blames Israel for using a Russian plane to launch a sneak attack, causing the deaths of 14 or 15 Russian airmen.
After this incident, Russia basically imposed a NO-FLY zone upon Israel by announcing sea and air live-fire exercises in the eastern Mediterranean off the coasts of Syria and Israel. No Israeli war planes are permitted to fly outside the territory of Israel unless they do so at an altitude above 19,000 feet. At such altitude, they would be easy targets for Syrian air defenses.
Below that altitude, Israeli planes would be "in the way" of an announced Russian military exercise where they could "accidentally" be hit by missiles from Russian naval vessels.
Israel apparently decided to TEST whether Russia meant what it said, and the Israelis sent up two F-16's to fly into Lebanon at an altitude BELOW 19,000 feet. Those planes were intercepted by Russian SU-34's and forced to turn back to Israel.
Su-34 is not just a bomber, it is very capable fighter too.
No additional information is being released about the interception.
Russia has just announced that when they complete their "military live-fire exercises" in the waters off the Syria Coast, they are CLOSING THE AIRSPACE Over Syrian Territorial waters along the entire coastline. NO UNAUTHORIZED AIRCRAFT will be permitted to enter air space over Syrian Territorial Waters. Violators risk being shot down without warning.
This now means the only area Israel can use to attack Syria is Lebanese airspace but . . . .
**** The Syrian army now has permission from Lebanon to fire at Israeli planes that are in Lebanese airspace. ****