MiG Killers


LCDR Tremel admitted that the shoot-down required two missiles

Save The Royal Navy had the opportunity to speak with LCDR Michael Tremel, the fighter pilot from VFA-87 who is credited with shooting down the Syrian Su-22 on Jun. 18, 2017 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).

As we have already explained his Su-22 shot down represented the first air-to-air kill scored by a U.S. Navy aircraft since Operation Desert Storm (ODS). During ODS in fact two F/A-18C Hornets belonging to VFA-81 Sunliners downed two Iraqis Chengdu F-7As (the chinese version of the MiG-21 Fishbed) on Jan. 17, 1991, and an F-14A Tomcat from VF-1 Wolfpack shot down an Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter on Feb. 6, 1991.

However, as reported by Save The Royal Navy, here’s Tremel description of the air engagement.

“The whole incident lasted about eight minutes… I did not directly communicate with the Syrian Jet but he was given several warnings by our supporting AWACS aircraft… So yes, we released ordnance and yes it hit a target that was in the air, but it really just came back to defending those guys that were doing the hard job on the ground and taking that ground back from ISIS.” He continued “I didn’t see the pilot eject but my wingman observed his parachute. When you think about the shoot-down, in the grand scheme of things… we [our squadron] flew over 400 missions in support of friendly forces on the ground” he said. On encounters with Russian aircraft, he said: “They behaved with great professionalism at all times.”

Moreover LCDR Tremel also admitted that the shoot down required two missiles, an AIM-9X Sidewinder short range air-to-air missile that was deceived by flares deployed from the SU-22 and then an AIM-120 AMRAAM, which destroyed the Fitter.

Finally according to Alert 5 weblog the jet involved has been identified as the F/A-18E Super Hornet AJ-302 BuNo. 168912 (that you can see in the main picture of this article) and not the F/A-18E BuNo. 168914 as first reported. The air-to-air kill mark has been painted below the canopy.

The images and the story reported in this article do not cause any OPSEC violation since they were already available from the sources outlined above.

LCDR Michael Tremel, the U.S. Naval Aviator from VFA-87 Golden Warriors who shot down a Syrian Sukhoi Su-22 on Jun. 18, 2017, in front of the F/A-18E Super Hornet AJ-302 BuNo. 168912

Photo credit: Alan Wilson from Stilton, Peterborough, Cambs, UK via Wikipedia and Navy Lookout Twitter profile

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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