Christian Triebert, a journalist on the Visual Investigations team at The New York Times, tweeted: “
There are at least two F-16s at Ganja International Airport in Azerbaijan, our analysis of an Oct. 3 @planetlabs satellite image shows. The fighter jets are likely operated by the Turkish Air Force, alongside a possible CN-235 cargo aircraft. Here’s a short thread why.”
The following is a collection of his tweets along with his sources:
“There are at least two F-16s at Ganja International Airport in Azerbaijan, our analysis of an Oct. 3 @planetlabs satellite image shows. The fighter jets are likely operated by the Turkish Air Force, alongside a possible CN-235 cargo aircraft. Here’s a short thread why.
We compared the approximate measurements and visual characteristics (canard wings, color, etc.) with a variety of aircraft, including those operated by the Azerbaijani Air Force (MiG-21, MiG-29, Su-25, L-39). The Turkish-operated F-16 is the closest match.
There's also a larger aircraft on the Ganja apron, which we think is likely to be a CASA/IPTN CN-235 transport aircraft, also used by the Turkish Air Force. (It does resemble an Alenia C-27 too, but less likely to be in Azerbaijan due to its operators).
The F-16s may signal increased involvement of a bigger power, Turkey, into the renewed fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries are already fighting alongside Azerbaijani troops.
In late July, Turkey deployed several F-16s to Azerbaijan for the joint TurAz Qartalı-2020 military exercises. Back then, at least five Turkish Air Force F-16s were filmed at the same location at Ganja International Airport.
Last week, per @AndrewKramerNYT’s reporting, Armenia's prime minister asked President Trump's national security advisor why nothing was being done to stop Turkey as he claimed the longtime U.S. ally used F-16s against Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Turkish government has denied the Armenian claims that it is sending Syrian mercenaries and F-16 fighter jets to assist Azerbaijani forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
While this satellite imagery analysis may be a confirmation of Turkish F-16 presence in Azerbaijan, it’s by no means evidence that one of those fighter jets shot down an Armenian Air Force Su-25 on Sept. 29, as was claimed by their Defense Minister.
The @nytimes Visual Investigations team will continue to monitor the ongoing fighting Nagorno-Karabakh, which has killed at least dozens of people. Feel free to reach out with tips and comments via DM, e-mail (email@example.com) or messaging apps (see profile).