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"First air-to-air in decades." Topic

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Tgunner19 Jun 2017 5:30 a.m. PST

Looks like a Super Hornet splashed a SU22 in Syria yesterday. The first US air-to-air kill of a manned aircraft in 15+ years.


Sounds like things in Syria are getting hot.

Great War Ace Inactive Member19 Jun 2017 6:30 a.m. PST

Russia didn't like that.

PMC31719 Jun 2017 6:37 a.m. PST

Welp, four more and that pilot's an ace!

Also I hope there aren't any more. Because then the Russians might get involved.

SBminisguy19 Jun 2017 7:57 a.m. PST

…and still not sure what the US is doing there, or who the so-called "rebels" even are…

VVV reply19 Jun 2017 8:15 a.m. PST

Russia has announced it will treat all foreign aircraft in Syria as targets. I doubt if they will actually do it.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP19 Jun 2017 8:32 a.m. PST

Deleted by Moderator they have been telling everyone over the last year that Russia is not our friend. Who would want good relations with a country that has thousands of nukes pointed at you anyway.

28mm Fanatik19 Jun 2017 8:57 a.m. PST

If we're not careful one of these days the dispute between the Syrian Democratic Forces and Assad loyalists over ISIS's diminishing territory might just end up with US and Russian forces shooting at each other.

I hope not, but you're playing with fire when clear rules and understanding are not established.

boy wundyr x Inactive Member19 Jun 2017 9:28 a.m. PST

Has Russia been acting like a "friend" in the last year, or beyond (Ukraine/Crimea)? Most people would draw a friendship line well before interfering in an election (collusion or not) came up.

vogless19 Jun 2017 9:32 a.m. PST

Some friends.

USAFpilot Supporting Member of TMP19 Jun 2017 9:40 a.m. PST

Has Russia been acting like a "friend" in the last year, or beyond (Ukraine/Crimea)? Most people would draw a friendship line well before interfering in an election (collusion or not) came up

Don't be so naive; the US has a long history of interfering in other countries elections and I'm not just talking ‘information operations'. Deleted by Moderator

vogless19 Jun 2017 10:33 a.m. PST


I'll just get all my info from Deleted by Moderator

jdpintex19 Jun 2017 11:37 a.m. PST

But where is the important information?

Did he use guns or missiles? What type of missle? What range?

Details, we need details to make up scenarios? Paint schemes, etc.

shirleylyn Inactive Member19 Jun 2017 1:02 p.m. PST

Very lucky the "red" was'nt a Mig29…

TheBeast Supporting Member of TMP19 Jun 2017 1:03 p.m. PST

jdpintex: Thanks for the note of sanity.

However, as a proper liberal, I have to wonder about the fate of the downed pilot.


Prince Alberts Revenge19 Jun 2017 1:59 p.m. PST

It didn't take very long for That post to devolve into political mudslinging as opposed to discussing wargaming/military aspects. The SU-22 is a limited range attack aircraft if I recall correctly. I'm curious about how was downed as well.

Stryderg19 Jun 2017 3:45 p.m. PST

It was probably downed via the use of harsh language.

28mm Fanatik19 Jun 2017 4:30 p.m. PST

I'm curious about how (the SU-22) was downed as well.

Without actually knowing the facts I'm 99% certain it's an AMRAAM. I will be surprised if it was a Sidewinder and no less than shocked if it was by the internal 20mm rotary cannon.

whitejamest19 Jun 2017 4:46 p.m. PST

Deleted by Moderator they have been telling everyone over the last year that Russia is not our friend.

Deleted by Moderator the heads of the FBI, CIA and NSA. They poopoo Russia's super duper friendly foreign policy because, well, I guess they're just grumpy. Deleted by Moderator

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP19 Jun 2017 5:45 p.m. PST

So how about them ballistic missiles Iran launched over Iraq? Wasn't that a neat trick!! Certainly should cooll things down.

Personal logo Ironwolf Supporting Member of TMP19 Jun 2017 11:58 p.m. PST

I didn't realize this, I thought there had been a few engagements in 2003 at the beginning of the 2nd Gulf war.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP20 Jun 2017 2:16 a.m. PST

Shooting an old bomber with a 2-3 generation air to air fighter is not much " air to air" just easy kill to safeguard sf on the ground and or to make a point in the politics of the place.

VVV reply20 Jun 2017 8:51 a.m. PST

What I didn't get is how you can claim 'self-defence' after it has dropped its bombs. So no one will repeat the bombing?
Let us not forget that the USA has been very protective of its base at al-Tanf even willing to destroy pro-Assad ground forces
The motto seems to be from the USA, we do what we want, don't get in the way.

Lion in the Stars20 Jun 2017 10:52 p.m. PST

Who would want good relations with a country that has thousands of nukes pointed at you anyway.

I would like relations good enough that they don't consider launching the [expletive deleted] things…

Tgunner21 Jun 2017 5:28 a.m. PST

The last recorded US military air-to-air kill was in 1999 according to news sources out there. That was a F-16 knocking down a Serbian MiG-29 in 1999 during the Kosovo campaign.

IIRC,the current US line was that forces with the Syrian regime (mixed columns of tanks, apcs, and troops) were advancing on SDF forces (an anti ISIS group), so the Bush launched some F18s. The planes did a show of force (flying low and loud) which made the columns retreat. The Syrians then dispatched the SU22. The US jets "buzzed" it to ward it off but it pushed on and bombed positions held by SDF troops. I don't recall any casualties being mentioned. The US flight there went weapons hot and shot down the SU22. The pilot did eject but no word on if he returned to Syrian lines. Also, no mention on what weapon the Hornet used. My guess is a missile too, but I get the impression it was close in, so maybe a Sidewinder? More details are coming out so perhaps they will disclose what weapon was used to down the SU.

Aristonicus Inactive Member23 Jun 2017 8:59 p.m. PST

New details on US shoot down of Syrian jet

(CNN) — CNN has learned new details of Sunday's rare air-to-air encounter between a Syrian Su-22 fighter and two US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets in the skies over Syria, the first time a US warplane has downed a manned aircraft since 1999.

The incident took place after a series of clashes between pro-regime troops and the US-backed anti-ISIS group, the Syrian Democratic Forces, near the SDF-held town of Ja'Din, just south of Tabqah, Syria.

According to the Pentagon, the regime soldiers, equipped with tanks, artillery and technical vehicles, were advancing on the SDF position, forcing the coalition to use the de-confliction hotline with the Russians in attempt to turn the regime troops back.

When that proved unsuccessful, coalition aircraft performed "strafing runs" near the regime positions, which halted their advance.

Following that incident, coalition aircraft observed the Cold War-era Su-22 fighter fly over the SDF positions.
"They saw the Su-22 approaching," Navy Capt. Jeff Davis,a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Tuesday. "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.

Immediately after the Syrian Su-22 fighter jet dropped its bombs, two American F/A-18E Super Hornets, flying from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, engaged, firing a AIM-9 Sidewinder -- a short-range air-to-air missile -- at the Syrian plane from about half a mile away, two US officials told CNN.

But the Syrian jet deployed defensive flares, causing the US missile to miss its target. The US pilot proceeded to fire off a second missile, an AIM 120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, which hit its intended target, downing the Syrian warplane and forcing its pilot to eject, the officials added.
The official said the US pilot saw the Syrian pilot eject and saw a parachute deploy, but the US believes the pilot would have landed in ISIS-controlled territory in Syria. The Syrian Armed Forces said in a statement that the pilot was missing.

The downing of a Syrian plane does not appear to have prevented Syria from attempting a similar bombing Tuesday according to US military officials.

A US official told CNN that another Syrian Su-22 fighter made an approach in what the military assessed as a possible bombing run on US backed-Syrian Democratic Forces near Tabqa, Syria, on Tuesday. The official said that coalition aircraft made a show of force and conducted a warning maneuver, and the Syrian fighter jet then aborted its trajectory and left the area.


Aristonicus Inactive Member23 Jun 2017 9:11 p.m. PST

Also interesting, and to cold war wargamers as well…

How Did a 30-year-old Su-22 defeat a modern AIM-9x

At approximately 18.43hrs local time on June 18, a US Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet operating over Syria shot down a Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) Su-22M4 ‘Fitter' fighter-bomber near Tabqah, Syria.

The F/A-18E (reported as BuNo 168914/AJ304) was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87 ‘Golden Warriors' (also known as ‘War Party'), which is assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8.

Its pilot engaged the ‘Fitter' and initially fired an AIM-9X Sidewinder close-range heat-seeking missile from a range of about half a mile, which was defeated by flares launched by the Su-22 pilot. The Super Hornet then re-engaged and fired an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile), which hit the ‘Fitter' despite being fired from relatively close range.

The pilot was able to eject and was later recovered safely, according to local sources.

It marked the first shootdown of a manned fighter by a US aircraft since May 4, 1999, when Lt Col Michael ‘Dog' Geczy, US Air Force, downed a Serbian MiG-29 with an AIM-120 fired from his F-16CJ during Operation ‘Allied Force'.

However, the engagement poses some interesting questions, not least; how was a 1980s-era ‘Fitter' able to defeat a cutting-edge US air-to-air heat-seeking missile?

Our good friend and contributor Angad Singh Tweeted this morning a fascinating feature he recalls, written by the great Bill Sweetman.


The linked feature Tweeted by Singh quotes John Manclark, who was the commander of the famous 4477th Test & Evaluation Squadron ‘Red Eagles' from 1985-87, a top secret unit flying Soviet fighters to train US pilots and evaluate new equipment.

One particular exerpt makes fascinating reading:

"We had 210 maintainers," Manclark recalled. "They were dedicated, just unbelievable, tech sergeants and master sergeants. The CIA gave us a flare dispenser from a Frogfoot [Su-25] that had been shot down in Afghanistan. We gave it to maintenance – it was just a thing with wires coming out of it. Four hours later they had it operational on a MiG-21."

That proved to be a very important test. "In 1987 we had the AIM-9P, which was designed to reject flares, and when we used US flares against it would ignore them and go straight for the target. We had the Soviet flares – they were dirty, and none of them looked the same – and the AIM-9P said ‘I love that flare'.

"Why'd that happen? We had designed it to reject American flares. The Soviet flares had different burn time, intensity and separation. The same way, every time we tried to build a SAM simulator, when we got the real thing it wasn't the same.

"I use the AIM-9P because it is out of the system and I can talk about it. The same thing happened to a lot of things that are still in the system and that I can't talk about."

The Syrian ‘Fitter' in the latest incident appears to have had success with flares against the AIM-9X. There are also reports that the SyAAF ‘Fitters' had received upgraded flare packs.

From 1979–82 40 new Su-22Ms were delivered to Syria. They flew around 40 sorties during the Lebanon War of 1982: while Israel claimed no fewer than eight shot down, Syria confirmed the loss of only one example.vAdditional batches including 20 Su-22M3Ks were delivered in 1983, followed by no fewer than 42 Su-22M4Ks delivered between 1984 and 1985, while all surviving Su-22Ms were locally upgraded to Su-22M2K standard.

However, the fleet was depleted and by 2014 only around a dozen Su-22M4Ks soldiered on. Iran donated 10 ex-Iraqi Su-22M4Ks to Syria, early in 2015. Tom Cooper wrote recently in Air Forces Monthly: Prior to the recent US strike on Shayrat, the SyAAF included around 30 Su-22M-3, Su-22M-4K and Su-22UM-3K jets with three squadrons; this number is now down to around ten aircraft, just five or six of which are operational.

Ultimately, having defeated the AIM-9X, the ‘Fitter' wasn't as successful against the radar-guided AMRAAM. However, this engagement will surely have a few Top Gun and Weapons School graduates scratching their heads and trying to understand exactly how and why a 30 year-old ‘Fitter', probably in a poor state of condition, beat-off America's best close-range missile.


Aristonicus Inactive Member23 Jun 2017 9:40 p.m. PST

Some details from the other side:

According to a source in the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF), Lieutenant Colonel Ali Fahd took off in the afternoon of June 18 from the T4 airbase east of Homs.

According to our source the Su-22M4 was loaded with six general purpose OFAB 250-270 bombs. Ali Fahd's mission was to strike ISIS fighters and vehicles attempting to withdrew from Rusafah in the province of Raqqah towards Sukhnah in the province of Homs and Oqerbat in the eastern Hama countryside – near Ali Fahd's home town of Salamyiah. Connection with Ali Fahd was lost after reaching the operation area over Rusafah.

From the other end of the story Mary Walsh, a CBS producer, said that US Navy A/F-18E Super Hornet fired two missiles at the Syrian warplane. It had to fire a second missile after the first missed. According to Walsh's story, the engagement range was below 6 miles meaning that mostly the A/F-18E used the IR guided AIM-9. Probably it used the AIM-9X variant that was introduced on the A/F-18E of the US Navy in 2007. The US introduced the AIM-9X as an extremely advanced short range air-to-air missile designed to overtake high maneuverable Soviet and Russian warplanes from the MiG-29 and Su-27 families.

However, Ali Fahd was able to dodge the first missile and even the second exploded near Ali Fahd's Su-22M4 –due to the Laser\IR fuze in the AIM-9X – and was not able to hit it directly according to Walsh.

It's fair to say that Lieutenant colonel Ali Fahd did everything he could in his cold war era warplane that has no radar (it's a ground attack warplane). It's also fair to say that the US pilot weapon chose was essential for his success as Ali Fahd's plane is not equipped with an IR\UV Warning Sensor. However it has a Radar Warning Sensor. If the US pilot chose to use the AIM-120 with active radar guidance, Ali Fahd would have known that he is being targeted and the F/A-18E would have lost the element of surprise.

Furthermore, losing connection with Ali Fahd allows to suggest that his communications may had been jammed right before he was downed. SF was not able to receive info if Ali Fahd preformed any airstrike against ISIS before being hit. As connection was jammed it may mean Ali Fahd's warplane was downed even before dropping a single bomb. This supports the version provided by the Syrian government and the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that said Ali Fahd's Su-22M4 never attacked positions of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

According to Ali Fahd's relative Al-Masdar News reporter, Majd Fahed, Ali Fahd was captured by the SDF and Tiger Forces Leader General Suheil Al-Hassan is negotiating with SDF in order to free Ali Fahd.

The SDF side has released no official comments on the situation. However, SDF sources confirmed that Ali Fahd was captured by the SDF suggesting that the group will release him in the end.


wardog25 Jun 2017 1:49 p.m. PST

concerned aim-9x defeated by those flares

Lion in the Stars25 Jun 2017 6:59 p.m. PST

It's explained in Aristonicus' quote, wardog: different flare burn rate, temp, etc, than what the AIM9 was designed to ignore.

Since we'd need to beg/borrow/steal the flares from the Russians to be able to properly test the AIM9X, we got surprised. Bet there's a rapid panic going on in the AIM9 software team right now, though!

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