Shoot-down of Syrian Fighter First Kill for Navy’s Super Hornet
By RICHARD R. Burgess, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — The downing of a Syrian jet fighter June 18 marks the first aerial victory for the Super Hornet strike fighter in its 15 years of combat service and the first aerial victories for Navy jets since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
“On June 18 at 6:43 p.m., a Syrian regime SU-22 military jet aircraft dropped bombs near Syrian Democratic Forces fighters south of Tabqah, Syria, 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 aircraft,” the Defense Department said in a release of the same date.
The weapon used by the Super Hornet in the engagement has not been announced.
The SU-22 is a Soviet-built fighter and one of the oldest tactical jets in the Syrian Air Force.
The victorious single-seat F/A-18E Super Hornet is assigned to a squadron of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8) onboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, operating in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. CVW-8 includes four F/A-18 strike fighter (VFA) squadrons, two (VFA-31 and VA-87) that fly F/A-18E Super Hornets, one (VFA-213) with two-seat F/A-18Fs and one (VFA-37) with F/A-18C “classic” Hornets. The Navy has not announced which F/A-18E squadron was credited with the shoot-down.
Navy F/A-18Cs of VFA-81 shot down two Iraqi Air Force MiG-21s during the Persian Gulf War, and an Iraqi MI-8 helicopter was downed by an F-14A Tomcat of Fighter Squadron One. Most of the aerial victories in the war were achieved by Air Force F-15 Eagle fighters.
Navy F-14 fighters shot down four Libyan fighters — two SU-22s and two Mig-23s — in two separate incidents during the 1980s, the first Navy aerial kills since the Vietnam War.
On June 8, an Air Force F-15E shot down an unmanned aerial vehicle that was attacking coalition forces near Tanf, Syria, near the Jordanian border.
Until June 18, the most recent U.S. aerial victory against a manned aircraft occurred on May 4, 1999, when an Air Force F-16CJ shot down a Serbian MiG-29 fighter over the former Yugoslavia.