Air traffic controllers at the Khmeimim Air Base “lost contact” with the aircraft on Wednesday evening, during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia, said the MOD. The plane was 35 kilometers off the coast of Syria when it vanished.
Russian radars also registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean on the evening of September 17.
Fourteen people were on board the plane at the time of the disappearance. A search and rescue mission is underway.
The Ilyushin 20 (IL-20) surveillance turboprop plane is an Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) platform, equipped with a wide range of antennas, infrared and optical sensors. The aircraft’s SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) and the plane’s satellite link allows the Russian military to monitor Syrian skies in real time.
An hour-long attack on Latakia began around 10 pm local time, and targeted a power station as well as two facilities belonging to the Syrian military. Syrian officials said the attack was “foreign” and came “from the sea,” but could not initially confirm rumors that Israel was behind it. Seven people were injured in the attack, according to Syrian officials.
While the Russian military said it recorded four F-16 Israeli jets over Syria at the time of the attack on Latakia, the IDF has refused to comment on the report.
The attack on Latakia came just hours after Russia and Turkey negotiated a partial demilitarization of the Idlib province, which is the last remaining stronghold of anti-government militants, including the Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (also known as the Jabhat Al-Nusra).