U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet Downs Syrian Su-22 Near Raqqa, Syria. And Here Is Everything We Know.

Jun 19 2017 - 61 Comments
By Tom Demerly

Navy Super Hornet from Carrier Air Wing 8 Scores Victory over Syrian Su-22.

Updated with the statement from the Russian MoD.

A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet from Carrier Air Wing 8 on board the USS George Bush shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 ground attack aircraft near Raqqa, Syria after the aircraft struck ground troops in Ja-Din, south of Tabqah, near Raqqa.

According to most sources it is the first time a U.S. combat aircraft has shot down a manned enemy aircraft in aerial combat in nine years.

The pro-Assad regime Syrian Su-22 that was downed had attacked Syrian Democratic Forces aligned with the U.S. led coalition and inflicted casualties on the friendly forces as they were driving south of Tabqah before it was intercepted.

The action began at approximately 4:30 PM local time on Sunday, Jun. 18 when Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad launched a ground attack on anti-regime Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) aligned with the U.S. led Coalition and inflicted casualties on the anti-Assad fighters.

Coalition combat aircraft immediately conducted a low-altitude “show of force” pass on the pro-Assad attackers and were successful in de-conflicting the two sides and halting the advance of pro-Assad forces on Coalition-friendly SDF positions.

As a result of the contact unspecified Coalition assets utilized a secure communication “de-confliction line” to contact Russian assets with communications to both sides in an effort to compel a cease-fire for both sides.

The Russian attempt at de-confliction failed at 6:43 PM local time when a pro-Assad Syrian Air Force Su-22 ground attack aircraft appeared on scene and bombed Coalition-friendly SDF positions. The attacking Syrian Su-22 was “Immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet” according to an official statement issued by the Combined Joint Task Force, Operation Inherent Resolve. The U.S. Navy F/A-18E was launched from the aircraft carrier USS George Bush (CVN-77) as it maintains patrol in the Mediterranean in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet aboard the USS George Bush (CVN-77). (Photo: US Navy)

In the official statement released from the Coalition about the incident the Combined Joint Task Force stated, “The Coalition’s mission is to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria. The Coalition does not seek to fight the Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend Coalition partner forces from any threat.”

Even though the air-to-air victory would be the first for the U.S. on a manned enemy combat aircraft since February 2008 according to some sources, the last confirmed U.S. kill dates back to 1999, during Operation Allied Force, when a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon shot down a Serbian MiG-29 Fulcrum. A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle shot down an unmanned Iranian-made Shahed-129 armed drone on Thursday, June 8 this year.

The U.S. destroyed nine Syrian Air Force aircraft in a large Tomahawk cruise missile strike on the Shayrat Air Base earlier this year on April 7, 2017. Among the Syrian Air Force air craft destroyed by the cruise missile attack were five Su-22M3s, one Su-22M4, and three MiG-23ML aircraft. The attack was a Coalition response to the alleged Syrian chemical weapons strike on Khan Shaykhun on April 4. At least 74 people died in the chemical attack with hundreds more wounded, including children.

A fully armed Syrian Air Force SU-22 in a bombproof revetment. (Photo: RT)

A Syrian Air Force SU-22 taxis outside its bombproof revetment. (Photo: RT)

The action over Syria marks a significant escalation in the conflict and establishes the resolve of the Coalition to achieve its goals in the region in addition to sending a clear message that the control of the airspace rests with the Coalition and not with Assad’s remaining forces.

A Syrian Air Force SU-22. (Photo: RT)

And here’s the response to the downing from the Russian MoD:

Statement of the Russian Defence Ministry concerning downing of the Syrian Su-22 near the town of Resafa

On June 18, 2017 the American fighter F-18A belonging to the international coalition shot down the Su-22 aircraft of the Syrian Air Force, which was performing a combat mission supporting the government troops, which were conducting the offensive against the ISIS terrorists near the town of Resafa (40 km to the south-west of the city of Raqqa).

As a result of the attack, the Syrian aircraft was destroyed. The pilot baled out over an ISIS-controlled area, his status is unknown.

The destruction of the aircraft of the Syrian Air Force by the American aviation in the air space of Syria – is a cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Numerous combat activities of the US aviation carried out under the cover of “fight against terrorism” aimed against the legitimate Armed Forces of a UN-member is a blatant breach of the international law and is in fact an act of military aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic.

Moreover, at that time the aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces were also performing combat missions in the air space of Syria. However, the Command of the coalition forces did not use the existing channels of communication between the Command of the Al Udeid Air Base (Qatar) and the Hmeymim Air Base Command to prevent air incidents in the air space of Syria.

The Russian party considers those actions of the US Command as an intentional failure to fulfill its obligations within the Memorandum on prevention of incidents and providing of flight security during the operations in Syria dated October 20, 2015.

Since June 19, 2017, the Russian Defence Ministry has stopped the cooperation with the American party within the Memorandum on prevention of incidents and providing of flight security during the operations in Syria and demands a thorough investigation of the incident by the US Command with further providing of information on its results and the taken measures.

In the combat mission zones of the Russian aviation in the air space of Syria, all kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets.

Therefore, the Russians will “track” as air targets the US-led coalition aircraft of all types: although this seems to suggest a unilateral NFZ established over Syria, the public release does not say they will “engage” the coaltion planes.

Let’s see what happens next.

 

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  • Edward Nettey

    Russia is a toothless bulldog in Syria. what? am really shocked and disappointed in Russia for allowing all this to happen in Syria. shame to Russia.

    • Simplicio

      “shocked and disappointed”

      Ehh…Exactly who did you believe were orchestrating the perfidious circus i Syria?

    • alan

      Trump targeted the SU-22 fleet with the tomahawks too, seems like they are quietly trying to get rid of assad’s CAS assets.

      • dcp123

        As long as they provide CAS to ISIS by attacking SDF forces and target civilians in rebel-held areas, I’d say the world is better off with Syria’s air force not having CAS planes.

        Remember the Tomahawk attack was after a Syrian Su-22 dropped chemical weapons on civilians, again.

        • OR

          Seriously?.. su-22 did not drop any chems, did you see the crater?.. investigators are not allowed there, be reasonable ..just being a subject of propaganda does not mean we should give up on thinking

  • CharleyA

    Let’s hope the Syrians don’t send any more of their pilots on one-way suicide missions. Su-22s are hopelessly obsolete when operated in airspace protected by US aircraft.

    • nwoecb

      Is the USA legally in Syria? What are they doing there besides supporting ISIS and other terrorist outfits?

      • sglover

        Yeah, you’d think those would be kind of important matters. But not to the man-boys who run this site. Their idea of “investigation” is running down the definitive take on the paint schemes of the aircraft involved.

      • dcp123

        The SDF is attacking Raqqa and the SAAF is attacking the SDF. The US shot down the SAAF plane that was attacking the SDF forces that were actually fighting ISIS. Under those circumstances only one plane can rationally be described as supporting ISIS and it’s the plane that was giving ISIS CAS by bombing SDF forces.

      • Victorinox

        Supporting ISIS? You are smoking the wrong stuff bro…

    • The First Crusade

      I don’t think Assad is going to lose any sleep over it.

    • franciwzm

      Su 35 too, expecially not having any decent bvr missile.

  • Vasko Ž

    Alleged chemical attack!

  • Marco

    February 2008: I don’t recall any US air to air victory against a manned aircraft since 1999. Can you please elaborate what victory would it be?

    I think you were talking about the Iranian Ababil-3 UAV downed after it entered in Iraqi airspace by an F-16 on 25 February 2009.

    Well, it’s a year later and it was an unmanned slow moving drone.

  • nwoecb

    Does anybody need more proof that USA created and is helping ISIS?
    As for Russia: truly shameful on their part and it confirms that they are truly a very unreliable “ally” to have. Syria ordered and paid for the following items more than a decade ago which Russia blocked after Israel “objected”:
    1. Yak130 planes
    2. Mig29 M/M2
    3. S300
    4. Mig31
    etc.

    So it’s normal if your supposed “ally” applies a technological arms embargo on you that you end up fighting with hopelessly outdated equipment (just ask Belarus, Serbia etc.). In any case, the Syrian army is writing history as – against all odds – it is valiantly fighting and defeating terrorism created and supported by USA/NATO/Israel/GCC.

    The name of the Syrian pilot was “Ali Fahd” and he leaves behind three small kids.

    • OG_Locc

      “Does anybody need more proof that USA created and is helping ISIS?”

      The Su-22 wasn’t bombing ISIS. It was bombing the SDF.

      • Pepe Le Cox

        Who said that? the west coalition, the Sirians and Russians denied that!

      • Z’ing Sui

        Because what else could it have bombed at Raqqua… oh wait. We don’t _know_ whom or what the plane was bombing, all we have is official statements.

    • dcp123

      Try to keep up.

      The SDF (largely Kurdish) forces have seized large parts of Syria from ISIS and are now attacking ISIS forces in its Syrina “capital,” Raqa. The Syrian air force is bombing the SDF forces that are fighting ISIS. The US Shot down a Syrian air force palne that was bombing the forces that are actually fighting ISIS.

      So, on this day Assad was supporting ISIS and the US was fighting it.

      • nwoecb

        Total lie. On which planet do you live?

    • OR

      Not true. Not sure what are you trying to achieve posting this.. If not for Russia there wouldn’t be Syria anymore.. another Lybia in the best case scenario

  • alan

    A Super Hornet v SU-22 … that was never going to end well for the Fitter.
    Why do we hear nothing about Assad’s Mig-29’s – apparently they are R-77 and KAB-500 equipped and come close to SMT standard.

    • dcp123

      The Russians probably don’t let their puppet fly his good planes in the way of US planes. Sales might be hurt if people saw them getting blown out of the skin in a totally one-sided fight.

      • alan

        True! I’m sure there are tons of agreements that we will never know anything about.

    • Pacemaker4

      arent many f-15’s doing cas either…

      • alan

        I wasn’t suggesting the Mig-29s provide CAS, I was just saying we don’t hear anything about them… Ever!

  • What’s Russian for no fly zone? S-400

  • nwoecb

    The name of the Syrian pilot was Ali Fahd; he leaves behind three small kids.

    • dcp123

      That’s a shame. It’s even worse that his government uses its planes only to kill civilians and attack the forces actually fighting ISIS.

    • Patrick

      The pilot survived.

  • drinking12many

    I had to laugh at the Bombproof revetments. Even using the “wrong” weapon tomahawks, they were easily penetrated during the strike.

    • TJ

      Why was it the “wrong” weapon? You do realize that the hardened aircraft shelters were struck by the Tactical Tomahawk (TACTOM) variant with penetrating warhead. Other variants of the Tomahawk were used on other targets on the airbase.

      • drinking12many

        I quoted wrong because right after it happened so many people came out and said Tomahawks were the wrong weapon. They weren’t that was kind of my point, but I get it the internet is hard to determine intent. :)

      • drinking12many

        It wasnt that was why I quoted the word wrong. Many after the strike said it was because of the “light” damage. Its the internet I know sometimes its hard to determine intent. Sorry if this double posts the first seemed to disappear.

  • Harry

    “Syrian Democratic Forces aligned with the U.S” aka Al Qaeda, Al Nusra and ISIS.

    • dcp123

      Yeah. No. SDF is the Kurdish-led force that sometimes allies with Assad and sometimes with the US, but pretty much always fights ISIS.

  • Race Reed

    so far in this “civil war” in Syria, Russia and its allies has lost 3 planes to US made planes.

  • sorrowmarrow

    whatever that syrian plane could have been doing there –

    it is a SOVEREIGN AIRSPACE OF THE SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC

    and american invaders have NO right to be there in the first place

    america is war criminal

    • displacedjim

      Wrong, that’s not a “war crime,” it’s an act of war. If Syria had some balls, they’d declare war on the US for violating their sovereign airspace and dropping bombs all over their countryside.

  • Victorinox

    What was shot down in February 2008??

  • Pepe Le Cox

    Are you crazy? any war with Russia the loser will use their nuclear arsenal and “adiós muchachos”! no one will survive, nor the initial strike, nor the nuclear winter after. They dont need the SU-35, or the whatever SU, only a multiple reentry hypersonic warheads or a few 100mt “TZAR bomba”, use the link below, select where you live and see is you will be free of the initial strike

    http://nuclearsecrecy.com/nukemap/

  • Z’ing Sui

    Using no-fly planes to beat no-zly zones? Smart!
    Growler should do it though, without anybody suffocating in the process.

  • Z’ing Sui

    Those weren’t American forces, but Kurdish militia. According to Pentagon, that is.
    Great guys, and bringing plenty of hurt to ISIS, but very very communist.

    US making it normal practice to down a UN member country’s plane in its domestic airspace in alleged support of communist militia is another historic day for America.

    One was when mujahideen turned from friend to enemy, but now it’s the opposite, US troops fighting for the creation on a de-facto communist state bordering NATO member Turkey.

    I don’t mind, I actually think Kurds deserve it. But it’s a development that is extremely curious to watch unfolding.

    • veej7485

      Kurds should have had their own country after ww1

  • Chugs 1984

    it would be awesome to find out if they used a AIM-120d, whether AWACS used their data link to guide the missile onto the target, etc etc.

    And if the US struck at a Syrian fighter why didn’t Syrian air defence fight back, fire off S-300 at any western aircraft?

    • WK80

      A report I read this morning said it was 2x Sidewinders employed at a distance of less than a mile. First one missed, 2nd one blew the rear fuselage apart.

  • Rob Annable

    Can you imagine the guilt when the pilot had to shoot this guy down? Sending an FA18 against a SU22 is like pitting an MMA fighter against a child! Just give up guys seriously.

    • veej7485

      probably a blur…he was given the green light to fire a live missile at a real target. no guilt, excitement…he was protecting US SOF on the ground

  • Marco Koschier

    Leroy the use of force of the US is illegal and a war crime I hope you realize that, imagine the headlines vice versa Syrian MIG 29 shot down a F 18 in the US for …..

    • veej7485

      committing war crimes is also illegal…and is far worse

  • Mongee Phase

    Lets he who survives World War 3. Need to build me a bunker.