For the first time since 1999, a United States fighter jet has destroyed a a manned enemy aircraft in air to air combat in an incident the US military is calling self defense. The last recorded air to air kill by a US pilot was in 1999 during the Kosovo War when a US F-15 shot down a Yugoslavian Mig-29.
Earlier today, a United States Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet engaged a Syrian SU-22 multi-use fighter-bomber after the aircraft completed a bombing run against US backed rebels who have joined the United States’ fight against ISIS in the area.
According to an ABC News report:
The incident occurred in the town of Ja’Din, south of Tabqa, Syria, which had recently been retaken from ISIS by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an umbrella group of Syrian Kurdish and Arab rebel forces supported by the U.S. in the fight against the militant group.
SDF came under attack from regime forces in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad around 4:30 p.m. Syria time. A number of SDF fighters were wounded in the assault, and the SDF soon left Ja’Din.
Coalition aircraft conducted a show of force overhead that stopped the initial pro-regime advance towards the town.
A statement issued by the US led coalition in the area clarified details about the incident:
“Following the Pro-Syrian forces attack, the coalition contacted its Russian counterparts by telephone via an established ‘de-confliction line’ to de-escalate the situation and stop the firing,” the statement read.
“At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters south of Tabqah and, in accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet,” said the statement.
“The coalition does not seek to fight Syrian regime, Russian, or pro-regime forces partnered with them, but will not hesitate to defend coalition or partner forces from any threat.
“The demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward coalition and partner forces in Syria conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.”