- Turkish Air Force
Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported Monday that the former chief of Turkey’s air force, Akin Ozturk, confessed to planning Friday’s coup attempt after being interrogated by Turkish police.
That report has been contradicted by two private broadcasters, however, who say that Ozturk denied any involvement in or knowledge of the coup plot.
“I am not someone who has planned or directed the coup attempt that was carried out on July 15 and I don’t know who did,” Ozturk said, according to Turkish news agency NTV.
The initial state media report indicated that Ozturk admitted to orchestrating the attempted takeover of Turkey’s government by a faction within the Turkish armed forces calling itself the “Peace at Home Committee.”
On Friday night, the faction stormed Turkey’s TRT broadcasting network and claimed to seize power and declare martial law. They deployed forces onto the streets of Istanbul and Ankara, Turkey’s largest city and capital, respectively, and closed two major bridges leading into Istanbul.
The uprising was ultimately thwarted by Turkish police and pro-government protesters. Nearly 3,000 suspected military plotters have been detained in Turkey since Saturday.
Ozturk was one of 27 generals and admirals being interrogated by Turkish security forces on Monday, according to NBC. Anadolu, the state-run media agency, reported that Ozturk denied having any part in the uprising before eventually confessing.
As many analysts have pointed out, those who staged the coup had extensive air support, including F-16s that at one point buzzed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s plane as it was attempting to land in Istanbul and at least 18 fixed-wing aircraft.
That is in addition to an “unknown number of helicopters,” Turkey expert Aaron Stein noted on Twitter.
If it’s true Ozturk was behind the attempted coup, “it might explain why they were able to get air support so quickly in the coup’s early phases,” Michael Stephens, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, noted on Twitter over the weekend.
The Aviationist published an extensive summary of the coup plotters’ air support, which also included KC-135 Stratotankers – a military aerial refueling aircraft.
Ozturk is a former four-star general who served as the 30th Commander of the Turkish air force until August 2015. He has been a member of Turkey’s Supreme Military Council since leaving his post in the air force.