Syrian Su-24s attempting to fly close to U.S. Special Forces in Syria get intercepted and “encouraged to leave” by F-22 Raptors

U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors fly in formation during a training mission, Dec. 6, 2009. The F-22 fighters and crews are deployed from the 27th Fighter Squadron at Langley Air Force Base, Va., and in the Air Forces Central area of responsibility for the first time as part of a multinational exercise where aircrews from France, Jordan, Pakistan, the U.A.E., the U.K., and the U.S. trained together in fighting a large-scale air war. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Michael B. Keller)

Two Syrian Su-24 Fencer attempting to fly over a Kurdish-held area in northeastern Syria where U.S. SOF (Special Operations Forces) are operating, get intercepted by U.S. F-22 and encouraged to depart the airspace.

Twice in the last few days, Syrian jets performing air strikes close to where U.S. SOF are operating in northeastern Syria caused coalition aircraft to scramble.

On Aug. 18, U.S. jets were dispatched to intercept the Syrian attack planes that were attacking targets near Hasakah supporting regime forces fighting the Syrian Kurdish forces. About 300 U.S. military operate in the same area, training Kurdish forces who are fighting Daesh.

Syrian pilots did not respond to the radio calls of the Kurdish on the general emergency frequency nor did they acknowledge calls attempted by the coalition on the air safety channel used for communication with the Russian aircraft operating over Syria.

Anyway, by the time U.S. fighters reached the area, the Syrian planes had already left.

Following the first “close encounter” the Pentagon warned Assad regime to not fly or conduct raids in the area where the American SOF are operating. However, on Aug. 19, two Su-24 Fencers, attempted again to penetrate the airspace near Hasakah.

This time, the two Syrian Arab Air Force attack planes were met by American F-22 Raptors (most probably already operating in the same area providing Combat Air Patrol).

As reported by ABC, a U.S. official said the presence of American F-22 aircraft “encouraged the Syrian aircraft to depart the airspace without further incident. No weapons were fired by the coalition fighters.”

This is not the first time the F-22 presence deters foreign military aircraft from harassing U.S. forces.

In March 2013, few months after two Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes operated by the Pasdaran (informal name of the IRGC – the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) attempted to shoot down an American MQ-1 flying a routine surveillance flight in international airspace the Pentagon decided to escort the drones involved in ISR (intelligence surveillance reconnaissance) with fighter aircraft, including the Raptors.

In one very well-known episode, F-22 stealth jets providing HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) to a U.S. Predator flew under the Iranian F-4E Phantoms that had intercepted the drone then pulled up on their left wing and then called them and radioed a famous “you really ought to go home” that allegedly scared the Iranian pilots off saving the drone.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


  1. “This is not the first time the F-22 presence deters foreign military aircraft from harassing U.S. forces.”
    Foreign…?? Syrian airplanes over Syrian territory?? Mind boggling …

    • Irony is Syria really isn’t Syria anymore…the borders and lines in the sands have shifted a bit. Syrian planes flying over newly Kurdish territory… Are then foreign planes :P

      • Not if you look at internationally recognized borders. Also, this comes as a surprise, as the Kurds and the government have generally been on good terms during this conflict.

    • Obviously a mistake…but Sigmund Freud would find it interesting, if you know what I mean.

  2. It’s pathetic that the Syrian government now needs permission to enter parts of its own airspace.

    • If it wasn’t in Civil war murdering their own people and letting ISIS control half their country they could have their airspace.

      • Sounds like US… Then I think US lost any airspace right over Baltimore and several other places.

      • Isis is created, armed and logisticly supported by your government. But don’t worry, every fascist empire has fallen and so will you too. Don’t moan when revenge comes and you get called “insurgents” for defending your home though.

      • It’s not exactly a civil war. The “rebels” and Daesh are mostly foreign soldiers of fortune. And the reason? Assad did not agree to build a gas pipeline from Qatar to Turkey (both US allies). Instead he wanted to build one from Iran to the Mediterranean sea. That decision was made in 2011 and this is exactly the year he became a “mass murderer” in western media. Before that, he was tolerated without much attention. He even helped the CIA to abduct and torture people.

        After all, this is another war about who gets what. It’s not about human rights, it’s about mining rights.

        Syria is the only secular state in that region. Christians could live there without fear of being murdered for their beliefs. Do you think it will change for the better with Daesh or “moderate terrorists” in power and Assad being gone?

        • I suggest you not idealize pre-war Syria too much. I should know, I lived there for over a decade. Also, the Syrian opposition is very much Syrian. No parallels can be made between ISIS and the armed opposition. The two have never cooperated and are ideologically oceans apart.

            • Did you miss the part where I said I lived in Syria? I experienced first hand the uprising since its beginning in March 2011. I know people still living there. Now what’s more believable, this, or RT and the Russian defense ministry?

  3. So, without the authorisation of the Syrian government, without an official mission of UN, without any authorisation and legitimity, the USA has the legitim right to destroy syrian aircraft, in the syrian air space ….

  4. Sounds mounted up. The number of flyable Syrian Su-24s is reduced to few units according to different sources closely monitoring SyAAF activities and units. I don’t see them flying their precious remaining Su-24s so far from vital interests… and in pair. That is something that simply does not belong to SyAAF as of 2016.

    • what…the russians did it a few weeks back, why would this be any different? Why wouldn’t they be using thier SU24s… their country is under attack and on the verge of collapse? When should they use them?

    • Russua is flyin & maintaining the same jets in syria… syria would have no issues getting their jets fixed

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