The two F/A-18E Super Hornet pilots “did everything they could to try to warn the Fitter away. They did a head-butt maneuver, they launched flares, but ultimately the Su-22 went into a dive and it was observed dropping munitions and was subsequently shot down.” Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, Pentagon spokesman
The photo in this post shows U.S. Navy F/A-18E BuNo. 168914 from VFA-87 Golden Warriors that, as we have already reported, was involved in the shooting down of a Syrian Su-22 on Jun. 18, 2017.
Noteworthy CNN has learned new details of Sunday’s air-to-air engagement.
According to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis,a Pentagon spokesman in fact, the two Super Hornets, which as we have explained were flying near the town of Ja’Din, just south of Tabqah, Syria to provide air cover to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) members, “saw the Su-22 approaching. It again had dirty wings; it was carrying ordinance. They did everything they could to try to warn it away. They did a head-butt maneuver, they launched flares, but ultimately the Su-22 went into a dive and it was observed dropping munitions and was subsequently shot down.”
“Dirty wings” is a military term used to describe a plane carrying armaments. In “a head-butt maneuver, the planes fly just in advance of another to create heavy wake and get its attention,” Davis explained.
As we have reported immediately after the Syrian Su-22 dropped its bombs, two American F/A-18E Super Hornets, flying from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, engaged, firing an AIM-9 Sidewinder – a short-range air-to-air missile – at the Syrian plane from about half a mile away.
But as US officials told CNN the Syrian jet deployed defensive flares, causing the US missile to miss its target. The U.S. pilot shot a second missile, in the form of an AIM 120 AMRAAM, which hit its intended target, downing the Syrian warplane and forcing its pilot to eject.
The officials added that the U.S. pilot saw the Syrian pilot ejecting and saw a parachute deploy, but the US believes the pilot would have landed in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. In fact the Syrian Armed Forces said in a statement that the pilot was missing.
However the downing of a Syrian Fitter does not appear to have prevented Syria from attempting a similar bombing Tuesday according to US military officials.
Actually a U.S. official told CNN that another Syrian Su-22 fighter made an approach in what the military assessed as a possible bombing run on U.S. backed SDF near Tabqa, Syria, on Tuesday.
The official said that coalition aircraft performed a show of force and the Syrian attack aircraft then aborted its trajectory and left the area.
Moreover, since after the Su-22 shot down Russia said it will treat any U.S. jets in Syria as “air targets,” the Australian government announced that it would “temporarily” halt its airstrikes in Syria.
However the chief of staff of the Air Force, Gen. David Goldfein, told the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday that the de-confliction line “remains open.”
“There’s actually a line we have with the Russians that’s a de-confliction line, and that line remains open and we remain in conversation with them,” Goldfein pointed out.
“So our hope of course is that we return to a little bit sense of normalcy and we continue to keep the dialogue open.” he concluded.
Photo credit: By Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK (Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet ‘168914 / AJ-304’) , via Wikimedia Commons