Physicists: Nobody's Telling the Truth About That Downed Russian Warplane

By Maddie Stone on at

Russia and Turkey each have their own version of what happened with that downed jet earlier this week, but science may have the last word. According to two Belgian astrophysicists, neither nation is being entirely truthful.

Over at Motherboard, Alejandro Tauber describes a new analysis of the crash that occurred Tuesday morning, when two Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane shortly after it veered into their airspace. Using simple Newtonian mechanics, Tom van Doorsslaere and Giovanni Lapenta of the University of Leuven, Belgium reveal several inconsistencies in both nations’ accounts of the incident.

For one, Turkish officials say that the Russian jet was in their airspace for seventeen seconds. But given the jet’s speed as determined by video footage and maps of the crash site, it could only have been flying over Turkey for seven seconds. Either the crash site is incorrect, or somebody’s watch is. What’s more, Russia’s claim that the jet made a “90 degree turn” after being hit is physically untenable, given the aircraft’s size and weight—a reality which raises serious questions about whether the Kremlin was trying to avoid Turkish airspace.

Check out the full account at Motherboard. While the researchers draw no conclusions about the intentions of either nation state, the physics, they say, doesn’t lie.