Hulusi Akar, the then-chief of general staff and current defense minister, personally met and congratulated the combat pilot of an F-16 fighter jet who shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M jet on November 24, 2015, his chief of staff revealed in a court statement, Nordic Monitor reveals.
Testifying in an Ankara court on April 10, 2019, Staff Col. Ramazan Gözel, chief of staff for Gen. Akar, who was chief of general staff at the time of the jet downing, told a panel of judges how the top commander was pleased with the performance of the fighter jet pilot.
“We [Akar and his entourage] went to Konya. … He talked to each and every staff member there. They said, ‘Commander, this is the pilot who shot down the Russian plane.’ If I recall correctly, the pilot had just had a new baby. Akar congratulated him and wished him luck. His congratulation were not only for the new baby but also for [shooting down the Russian jet] because back then everybody was supportive of the downing of the jet,” Gözel said.
The 48-year-old colonel had worked with Akar for three years since 2013, when Akar was the Land Forces commander. He became his chief of staff when Akar was promoted to chief of the Turkish armed forces in 2015.
His recollection relates to Akar’s visit to the 3rd Main Jet Base Command in the central province of Konya on April 13, 2016 after the top commander’s scheduled visit to bases in the border provinces near Syria. READ MORE HERE