There were at least two F-16s at Ganja International Airport in Azerbaijan, a New York Times analysis of an October 3 satellite image by Planet Labs shows, investigative journalist Christiaan Triebert revealed in a Twitter thread on Wednesday, October 7.
The fighter jets are likely operated by the Turkish Air Force, alongside a possible CN-235 cargo aircraft, Triebert said.
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.
“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,” the journalist said.
“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).”
Triebert said he believes the F-16s may signal increased involvement of a bigger power, Turkey, into the renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. Turkish-backed Syrian mercenaries are already fighting alongside Azerbaijani troops, he said.
As reported earlier, an F-16 fighter jet belonging to Turkey’s air force shot down an Armenian Su-25 attack bomber in Armenia’s airspace on Tuesday, September 29. The pilot was killed.
Azerbaijan, with help from Turkey, launched a large-scale offensive against Karabakh (Artsakh) in the morning of September 27, shelling Armenian positions and civilian settlements with large caliber weapons and rocket systems. Armenia and Karabakh have introduced martial law and total mobilization. The Armenian side has reported deaths and injuries both among the civilian population and the military. International and local journalists too have been injured in Azeri shelling of towns and villages.
Donations can be made to Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, which has launched a fundraising campaign to support Karabakh amid Azerbaijan’s aggression.