Ja'Din shootdown incident

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Ja'Din shootdown incident
Part of List of United States attacks on Syria during the Syrian Civil War, American-led intervention in the Syrian Civil War (Operation Inherent Resolve)
Syrian Su-22 being shot down.jpg
Image taken from video footage of the incident recorded by an F/A-18[1][2][3]
Date18 June 2017
Location
35°40′50″N 38°42′40″E / 35.68056°N 38.71111°E / 35.68056; 38.71111Coordinates: 35°40′50″N 38°42′40″E / 35.68056°N 38.71111°E / 35.68056; 38.71111
Result

Syrian Air Force Su-22 Fitter shot down

Belligerents
 United States
Syrian Democratic Forces

Syria Syrian Arab Republic

 Russia (Present during incident, did not participate)
Commanders and leaders

VFA-87

  • Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel
  • Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Krueger

VFA-37

  • Lt. Cmdr. William Vuillet
  • Lt. Stephen Gasecki[4]
Syria Captain Ali Fahd[5]
Units involved

US Navy

Strike Fighter Squadron 87 (US Navy) insignia 2015.png VFA-87

  • Freedom 33
  • Freedom 34

Vfa-37.png VFA-37

  • Freedom 43
  • Freedom 44

Flag of the Syrian Arab Air Force.svg Syrian Air Force

Flag of the Russian Air Force.svg Russian Air Force
Strength

United States United States

Syria Syria

Russia Russia

  • 1 Su-27 (did not take part in combat)
Casualties and losses
Unknown injured[6] Syria 1 Su-22 Fitter shot down (pilot survived)[7]
Ja’Din is located in Syria
Ja’Din
Ja’Din
Location of Ja'Din in Syria

The Ja'Din shootdown incident occurred on 18 June 2017, when a United States Navy F/A-18E, shot down a Syrian Air Force Su-22 Fitter with an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile after it reportedly attacked U.S. backed Syrian Democratic Forces positions in the town of Ja'Din just South of Tabqah. It would be the first time the US downed a manned aircraft since 1999 and the first with the F/A-18E variant.[8][9][10][11]

The downing triggered quick condemnation from Russia and Syria with Russia temporarily suspending its deconfliction hotline with the US coalition, claiming it to be a violation of International law, and military aggression towards the Syrian Arab Republic. The Syrian pilot captain Ali Fahd would be found alive by Syrian troops one day later in the village of Shuwaihat after successfully ejecting from his aircraft. The F/A-18E pilot, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross in September 2018 for his actions during the incident.[12][13][14]

Background[edit]

The United States and other Coalition partners began combat operations in Syria on 23 September 2014 against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and al-Nusra Front. Before operations began the Syrian Government stated that "any action of any kind without the consent of the Syrian Government would be an attack on Syria". However, when the first airstrikes began the Syrian military did not respond and set radar to passive. Syria's foreign minister later suggested that Syria and the US-led Coalition were on the same side.[15] The Coalition wouldn't attack Syrian Military positions until September 2016 when warplanes from the United States, Australia, Denmark. and the United Kingdom launched 37 airstrikes on Syrian forces in Deir ez-Zor Airport killing 106 soldiers.[16] In response Syria canceled a ceasefire forged by diplomats from the United States and Russia. The Coalition claimed it had misidentified the Syrian soldiers as ISIL militants while Syria claimed it as a deliberate attack.

In April 2017, the first deliberate military action against the Syrian Arab Republic occurred when the United States bombed the Shayrat Airbase in response to the Shaykun chemical attack. Two months later on 6 June, the United States conducted airstrikes on pro-government forces, killing an unknown number of fighters. Two days later, an American F-15E shot down an Iranian operated drone.[17] Because of these events the rules of engagement were constantly changing. Sometime before June the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier deployed to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea South of Crete. During the carrier's operations the fighter crews were told to be ready to defend from a third party aerial attack, due to all the recent events that had occurred.

Incident[edit]

Earlier in the day on 18 June, Syrian Regime forces attacked SDF positions in Ja'Din, wounding several fighters, prompting Coalition aircraft to respond with a "show of force", stopping the attack.[18] Several airstrikes also had been conducted by pilots on board the George H.W. Bush on ISIL targets in Syria. After their pre-mission briefing, F/A-18E pilots LT. Cmdr. Michael "Mob" Tremel (call sign - Freedom 33) and wingman Jeff Krueger (call sign - Freedom 34) were sent out as the second wave of aircraft from the carrier into Syria that day. Alongside Tremel and his wingman were two F/A-18Cs, William Vuillet and Stephen Gasecki were Freedom 43 and 44. The four fighters took the Northern route alongside Syria's coastline through Russian and Turkish air defense range and headed toward the city of Raqqa. Once over the city they established communication with the Joint Terminal Air Controller who was on the ground just South of Al-Tabqa. They entered into close air support overhead the air controller and began waiting for any strikes to be called in from friendly SDF forces fighting on the ground. During this, a Russian Air Force Su-27 appeared and began flying overhead.

Shoot down[edit]

Tremel, who was having problems with his targeting pod, began tracking the Russian jet, as well as checking his radar for any more aircraft while the three others stayed in close air support mode. At this point, another aircraft appeared on his radar moving at fast speeds. Tremel, believing it to be Syrian, moved to intercept and identified it as a Syrian Air Force Su-22 Fitter, the same type of aircraft allegedly used in the Shaykun chemical attack, which had prompted the US response earlier that April. Upon identification, Tremel got on radio with an airborne command and control post and began sending warnings to the Syrian aircraft for it to divert its course. When that failed, Tremel flew over the Fitters canopy and shot off flares. When that also failed to change the aircraft's course, the Su-22 was in range of friendly forces on the ground, and at 6:43 p.m. local time, dived down and dropped ordnance on SDF fighters in the town of Ja'Din, causing injuries.[19] Following the rules of engagement, Tremel locked onto the aircraft with a AIM-9 Sidewinder and fired. The Su-22 shot off flares and was able to successfully avoid the missile.[20][21] Tremel then quickly locked on with an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile and fired at the Syrian aircraft, successfully reaching the Fitter and blowing up on the jet's backside.[22][23][24][25][26][27]

The Syrian Army claimed that the Su-22 was on a mission to strike Daesh (ISIL) when the downing occurred.

Aftermath[edit]

The Su-22 began violently shaking as it fell to the ground. The Syrian pilot Captain Ali Fahd was able to successfully eject before the plane could explode, and turned on his emergency transponder. Tremel and his wingman were now deep in enemy air defense range with the Russian Su-27 still overhead. With clearance from the Joint Terminal Air Controller, they began to exit the area. A nearby KC-10 Extender was able to refuel the fighters and give a quick moment of clarity after the tense situation. Tremel and his wingman were cleared to head back to the carrier, of which they took the route through Iraq instead. The two F/A-18Cs were ordered to provide close air support for Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State in Mosul. During this time, the two F/A-18Cs conducted airstrikes before finally returning to the George H.W. Bush.

Immediately after the shoot down, clashes broke out between Regime forces and Coalition backed Syrian Democratic Forces near Al-Resafa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).[28]

Captain Ali Fahd, the pilot of the Su-22 was found alive in the village of Shuwaihat by regime forces the next day.[29]

Two days after the shoot down, a US F-15 fighter jet shot down another Iranian operated Shahed 129 armed drone in the same area where the Su-22 was brought down, making it the third aircraft shoot down of a pro-regime aircraft that month.[30][31][32]

In September 2017, at a Tailhook Association panel, the Hornet and Super Hornet pilots involved in the incident gave a moment by moment eyewitness account of what led to, and happened during and after the incident.[22]

Reactions[edit]

  • Seal of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve.svg A statement put out by the US-led Coalition stated "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."[33]
  • Syria A statement released by the Syrian Army stated "Flagrant attack was an attempt to undermine the efforts of the army as the only effective force capable with its allies ...in fighting terrorism across its territory. This comes at a time when the Syrian army and its allies were making clear advances in fighting Daesh (Islamic State) terrorist group."[34] On state run media, the Syrian Army army also said that the Su-22 was on a mission to strike IS-forces when it came under fire.
  • Russia The Russian Government quickly condemned the downing and took immediate action by temporary suspending its hotline with the US Coalition. The Russian MoD viewed it as blatant aggression towards Syria stating "Syrian air force aircraft destroying American aviation in Syrian airspace, cynical violation of the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic. Repeated Hostilities Aviation USA under the guise of "fighting terrorism" against the legitimate armed forces United Nations Member States, are a flagrant violation of international law and in fact military aggression towards the Syrian Arab Republic."[35] Russia also threatened that Coalition aircraft West of the Euphrates River were now considered potential targets.[36][37][38][39][40]
  • Australia Australia suspended its airstrikes in Syria in response to rising tensions between the US and Russia over the downing and in precaution to the Russian threat that any Coalition aircraft flying West of the Euphrates River would be a "potential target".[41][42][43][44][45][46]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rogoway, Tyler. "VFA-31 Releases Footage Of Syrian Su-22 Being Shot Down In This Awesome Cruise Video". The Drive.
  2. ^ "You Can Finally Watch Footage Of The First US Air-To-Air Kill In 18 Years". Task & Purpose. 21 September 2017.
  3. ^ Cenciotti, David (21 September 2017). "Here's The Video Of The Syrian Su-22 Fitter Being Shot Down By A U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet".
  4. ^ Seck, Hope Hodge. "'A Different Feeling': Navy Pilots Describe Shooting Down SU-22".
  5. ^ "Alahednews:Syrian Pilot Found Alive After US Downed His Jet over Raqqah". english.alahednews.com.lb.
  6. ^ "US shoots down Syrian bomber for attacking anti-ISIS force". Washington Examiner. 18 June 2017.
  7. ^ "PressTV-Pilot of Syrian jet downed by US found alive".
  8. ^ "US coalition downs first Syrian plane". 19 June 2017 – via www.bbc.com.
  9. ^ Browne, Ryan. "New details on US shoot down of Syrian jet". CNN.
  10. ^ Rogoway, Tyler. "USN F/A-18E Super Hornet Shoots Down Syrian Su-22 Fitter Attack Jet".
  11. ^ Press, Associated. "Pentagon: U.S. shoots down Syrian aircraft for first time". POLITICO.
  12. ^ Harkins, Gina (10 September 2018). "Navy Pilot Gets Distinguished Flying Cross for Shooting Down Syrian Bomber".
  13. ^ Miles, Frank (10 September 2018). "US Navy fighter pilot receives valor award for shooting down Syrian jet in 2017". Fox News.
  14. ^ "US Navy pilot awarded medal for shooting down Syrian fighter jet". NEWSREP. 13 September 2018.
  15. ^ Press, Associated. "Syrian Foreign Minister: The US Said 'We Are Not After The Syrian Army' Before Airstrikes". Business Insider.
  16. ^ http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=50788
  17. ^ Wetzel, Gary. "An American F-15E Just Shot Down An Armed Drone Over Syria". Foxtrot Alpha.
  18. ^ "US shoots down Syrian warplane that bombed coalition-backed fighters". France 24. 18 June 2017.
  19. ^ "White House: US wants to 'de-escalate' Syria situation as Russia warns it will treat jets as targets". ABC News. 19 June 2017.
  20. ^ Mizokami, Kyle (26 June 2017). "How Did a 30-Year-Old Jet Dodge the Pentagon's Latest Missile?". Popular Mechanics.
  21. ^ "How did a 30 year-old Su-22 defeat a modern AIM-9X? - Combat Aircraft".
  22. ^ a b Rogoway, Tyler. "Here's The Definitive Account Of The Syrian Su-22 Shoot Down From The Pilots Themselves". The Drive.
  23. ^ Schogol, Jeff (8 August 2017). "Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet shoots down Syrian jet after it attacks US allies". Military Times.
  24. ^ http://aviationweek.com/paris-air-show-2017/us-navy-super-hornet-shoots-down-su-22-syria
  25. ^ "Navy Pilot: Here's How I Got The US's First Air-To-Air Kill In 18 Years". Task & Purpose. 15 September 2017.
  26. ^ Gordon, Michael R.; Erdbrink, Thomas (18 June 2017). "U.S. Fighter Jet Shoots Down Syrian Warplane" – via NYTimes.com.
  27. ^ Ziezulewicz, Geoff (10 September 2018). "The inside story of how a US Navy pilot shot down a Syrian jet". Navy Times.
  28. ^ http://www.syriahr.com/en/?p=68329
  29. ^ https://www.iraqinews.com/arab-world-news/pilot-syrian-aircraft-dropped-us-led-coalition-found-raqqa/
  30. ^ https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/06/20/in-third-shoot-down-in-a-month-u-s-jet-destroys-another-iranian-drone-over-syria/
  31. ^ Hennigan, W. J. "U.S. forces shoot down Iranian drone over Syria as fighting escalates". latimes.com.
  32. ^ Borger, Julian (20 June 2017). "US shoots down second Iran-made armed drone over Syria in 12 days" – via www.theguardian.com.
  33. ^ "U.S. shoots down Syrian fighter jet over Syria - ABC News". web.archive.org. 18 June 2017.
  34. ^ "U.S. warplane downs Syrian army jet in Raqqa province". 19 June 2017 – via www.reuters.com.
  35. ^ Rogoway, Tyler. "Shockwaves Sent Through Tattered US-Russian Relationship After US Downs Syrian Jet".
  36. ^ "Russia warns U.S. after Syrian warplane is downed". NBC News.
  37. ^ CNN, Pamela Boykoff. "Russia: US planes over western Syria now 'air targets'". CNN.
  38. ^ Gordon, Michael R.; Nechepurenko, Ivan (19 June 2017). "Russia Warns U.S. After Downing of Syrian Warplane" – via NYTimes.com.
  39. ^ Robins-Early, Nick (19 June 2017). "Russia Says It Will Track U.S. Planes As Potential Targets In Syria" – via Huff Post.
  40. ^ "Russia Warns of Escalation After a USN F/A-18E Shoots Down Syrian Su-22". www.inquisitr.com.
  41. ^ Moore, Mark (20 June 2017). "Australia suspends airstrikes in Syria after Russia warning".
  42. ^ "Australia suspends air strikes in Syria - government". 20 June 2017 – via www.reuters.com.
  43. ^ "US and Russia clash over downed jet forces Australia to suspend Isis air strikes". The Independent. 20 June 2017.
  44. ^ editor, Patrick Wintour Diplomatic; Borger, Julian (19 June 2017). "Russia warns US its fighter jets are now potential target in Syria" – via www.theguardian.com.
  45. ^ CNN, Elizabeth Roberts and Tim Lister. "Syria: Australia suspends air operations". CNN.
  46. ^ Press, Associated. "Australia suspends airstrikes in Syria after downed jet by U.S.-led forces". latimes.com.