U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet That Shot Down Syrian Su-22 in 2017 Spotted With “New” Kill Markings At NAS Fallon

F/A-18E BuNo 168912 with the Syrian flag on the right hand side of the nose at NAS Fallon on Sept. 5, 2019. (Image credit: Christopher McGreevy).

The Super Hornet BuNo 168912, that shot down a Syrian Su-22 Fitter, now features kill markings on the left hand side of the nose.

On Jun. 18, 2017, F/A-18E Super Hornet BuNo 168917 Modex 302 belonging to the VFA-87 “Golden Warriors” from Carrier Air Wing 8 on board the USS George Bush and piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Michael “Mob” Tremel,” shot down a Syrian Arab Air Force Su-22 Fitter.

The aerial engagement occurred near Raqqa, Syria after the aircraft struck ground troops in Ja-Din, south of Tabqah, near Raqqa.

Here’s what we wrote in a report back then:

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 used 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.

While a definitive account of the 8-minute engagement was given by Tremel during the Tailhook Association’s annual symposium in September 2018, the VFA-31 Tomcatters, also embarked on USS George Bush (CVN-77) supporting Operation Inherent Resolve from the Mediterranean Sea back then, included footage of the aerial engagement, filmed with their ATFLIR (Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infra Red) pod, in their 2017 OIR cruise video. The clip shows the AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) hitting the Syrian Sukhoi (from two different angles – maybe because other Hornets filmed the scene) and then the Fitter crashing into the ground.

The F/A-18E Tremel flew on that day was given special kill markings on the left canopy rail, as the below images show:

Lt. Cdr. Michael Tremel stands next to his F/A 18-E Super Hornet on board the USS George W. Bush last July. The tomahawk symbols represent strike missions and the “kill” symbol for his shootdown is upper right. (Photo courtesy of Save The Royal Navy via Military.com)

However, the same aircraft, now Modex 402, still with VFA-87, was recently spotted by our friend and contributor Christopher McGreevy, with kill markings on the right hand side of the nose.

McGreevy photographed the F/A-18E BuNo 168912 Modex 402 at NAS Fallon, Nevada, on Sept. 5, 2019.

A close up view of the nose of the F/A-18E BuNo 168912 with the Syrian kill markings on the right hand side at NAS Fallon on Sept. 5, 2019. (Image credit: Christopher McGreevy).

Interestingly, the Syrian flag on the right hand side of the nose has “replaced” the one on the left canopy rail that was painted over, as the following image shows:

A shot showing the left side of the F/A-18E BuNo 168912. The Syrian flag on the left canopy rail appears painted over. (Image credit: Christopher McGreevy).

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.