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A Russian Orlan-10 aerial reconnaissance drone.

Turkey’s jets just shot down a suspected Russian drone near its border with Syria

By Adam Pasick

An unmanned aircraft resembling a Russian Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone was shot down today (Oct. 16) near the Syrian border by the Turkish air force, which said it had been intercepted more than 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) inside Turkey’s airspace.

An unnamed US official told Reuters that Washington believed the drone was Russian, although Moscow said that all its planes in Syria had safely returned to base, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.

Two Russian drones, identified as an Orlan-10 and a Eleron-3SV, were also reportedly shot down by Syrian rebels in July, before the large-scale deployment of Russian forces to bolster the Syrian regime. Ukraine has also shot down Orlan-10 variants in its war against Russia-backed separatists.

The Orlan-10 drones, which are launched with a catapult and land via parachute, are designed to be “the eye in the sky” against NATO forces, according to the Russian state-owned broadcaster RT:

“Orlan” means “sea eagle” in Russian, and the drones share a name with Russian-made space suits.