Military Aviation


The F/A-18E Super Hornet from VFA-87 Golden Warriors apparently fired two missiles: one AIM-9X Sidewinder from a range of just 0.6 miles which missed the Sukhoi; and then an AIM-120 AMRAAM which shot down the Su-22

As we have reported yesterday, on Jun. 18, 2017, the Pentagon claimed that a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter bomber shot down a Syrian Sukhoi Su-22 near Tabqah, 20 miles west of Raqqa, after that the attack aircraft had dropped bombs near U.S. backed forces, in the form of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Now, an interesting article appeared on War Is Boring and brought to my attention by Jared Smith, an aviation expert and a reader of The Aviation Geek Club, seems to highlight more details about the engagement.

According to the article on Jun. 18, 2017, the SDF was advancing on Raqqa, ISIS’ self-declared capital, while U.S. military aircraft kept close watch on the village of Ja’Den (a small village placed at six miles south of Tabqah air base, that according to the U.S. and Russia agreement on a demarcation line to prevent aerial mix-ups, should belong to the SDF).

But on Jun. 17-18, 2017, ISIS repelled the initial SDF attack on Ja’Den. So, after the SDF retreated, regime or pro-regime forces advanced on Ja’Den.

On the afternoon of June 18, F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet fighter jets from Carrier Air Wing 8 (CVW 8)— embarked on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, then underway southwest of Cyprus — were conducting continuous combat air patrols (CAPs) over Tabqah.

As told by War Is Boring, according to the U.S.-led coalition, at 4:30, pro-regime forces clashed with the SDF near Ja’Den. In the mean time at least five Sukhoi Su-22s from the Syrian air force — some launching from Shayrat, the others from Tiyas — approached the area, too.

Then as reported again by War Is Boring “after one of the Sukhois dropped its bombs on or near SDF positions at around 6:40 in the evening — possibly as the result of a navigational error — U.S. commanders ordered two F/A-18E Super Hornets to open fire. One of the Super Hornets targeted the second Syrian jet as it was approaching the combat zone from the west, apparently firing an AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missile. The wreckage of the Sukhoi hit the ground a few kilometers east of Rassafah, a small town southwest of Tabqah and east of Ja’Den. Three hours later, the Syrian ministry of defense declared its pilot killed in action — and simultaneously accused the USA of blatant aggression. Considering the complexity and chaos of the Syrian conflict, further incidents of this kind are simply unavoidable.”

Furthermore more details about the engagement were revealed by the world famous modern military aviation author Tom Cooper on Facebook. In fact it seems that the Su-22 kill was scored by an F/A-18E Super Hornet from VFA-87 Golden Warriors that apparently fired two missiles: one AIM-9X Sidewinder from a range of just 0.6 miles which missed the Sukhoi; and then an AIM-120 AMRAAM which shot down the Su-22.

Further details about the VFA-87 F/A-18E involved in the air engagement have surfaced today on Detail & Scale Facebook page. According to Bert Kinzey in fact the Super Hornet that shot down the Su-22 over Syria is the F/A-18E BuNo. 168914.

Stay tuned for additional updates if further details on this story had to come to light!

Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matt Matlage and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Granito / U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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