New Details Disclosed about US Downing of Syrian Fighter Jet in Raqqa

TEHRAN (FNA)- A leading US magazine revealed new details about the US F-18’s downing of a Syrian Su-22 fighter jet over Raqqa, noting that the American-made weapons do not always work as claimed.

According to the National Interest, the US Navy’s recent shooting down of a Syrian Arab Air Force Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter near the town of Tabqah over Syria is illustrative of a truth in modern warfare: Weapons do not always work as advertised.

During the engagement between a pair of Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornets—flying off the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77)—and the Fitter, advanced US air-to-air missiles were decoyed at short-range. Indeed, as was reported by CNN, the Super Hornets first attacked the antiquated early-1970s vintage Su-22 strike aircraft with an infrared-guided Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder.

Though the Pentagon has not released any details, the Sidewinder was likely an AIM-9X, the latest iteration of the long-serving weapon that features high off-boresight capability. Though the F/A-18E pilot fired the Sidewinder from about half a mile away—very short range even for an AIM-9 shot—the weapon was decoyed by the Russian-built Su-22’s flares. The Navy pilot reengaged with a Raytheon AIM-120C AMRAAM—a considerably more expensive and much longer-ranged active radar guided weapon—to dispatch the antiquated Fitter.

The question one might ask is: How did the Su-22 pilot decoy the AIM-9 with flares given the modern Sidewinder’s advanced imaging focal plane array infrared seeker?

Indeed, the AIM-9X is specifically designed to avoid being spoofed by decoys. All Sidewinders have had such features since the early 1980s—but the 9X variant is exponentially more capable than its predecessors. The problem is that technology is never perfect, and often, the enemy will have their own tricks up their sleeves.

According to the US magazine, the Probability of Kill numbers for the modern day AIM-120 AMRAAM and the AIM-9X are classified, but weapons are known to perform exceptionally well during live fire exercises. However, as with previous generation weapons, the AIM-120 has not lived up to its statistics during actual combat. Since its debut during Desert Storm and through Iraqi Freedom, the AMRAAM has defeated six targets in combat for 13 shots taken at beyond visual ranges—roughly a 46 percent success rate. The weapon also recently destroyed the aforementioned Su-22 over Syria—but that was at close range.

A Syrian fighter jet engaged in operations against the ISIL in Raqqa was downed by the US-led coalition warplane on June 18.

Damascus stressed that the US-led coalition has shot down one of its bomber during a mission in Raqqa countryside.

According to the statement, the warplane was carrying out operations against ISIL in the countryside of Raqqa when it was targeted, leading to a crash and the loss of the pilot, who is currently missing.

“This attack comes at a time when the Syrian Arab army and its allies are advancing in the fight against ISIS (ISIL or Daesh) terrorists who are being defeated in the Syrian desert in more ways than one,” the statement read.

The statement stressed that although such attacks seek to undermine the Syrian armed forces’ struggle against terrorism, they will not be deterred in fighting for stability and security in the Syrian Arab Republic.

The downing of the Syrian aircraft was confirmed by an official press statement from Operation Inherent Resolve, the US-led international task force against ISIL, which accused the Damascus government of targeting fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces.

“At 6:43pm, a Syrian regime SU-22 dropped bombs near SDF fighters South of Tabaqa and, in accordance with rules of engagement and collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, was immediately shot down by a US F/A-18E Super Hornet,” the statement read.

The statement stressed that its mission is to defeat ISIS (ISIL or Daesh) in Iraq and Syria and that 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.”

It is not the first time that the US-led intervention in Syria has led to standoffs and violence against pro-government forces.

As Washington claims that it fights against the ISIL group, US warships fired 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles from two warships in the Mediterranean Sea at the Shayrat airfield in Homs province on April 7, following a chemical weapons incident in Idlib province on April 4 which the Western countries blamed on the Damascus government.

The Syrian government has fiercely denied using or even possessing chemical weapons since the country’s compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention was certified by international observers in 2013, as the world is still waiting for the US and its allies to provide any proof for its claims of Bashar al-Assad government involvement in the alleged chemical attack.

Also on May 18, the US-led coalition struck pro-Bashar Assad forces near al-Tanf in the area of an established de-confliction zone. The coalition air raids occurred near al-Tanf, where US’ and British special operations forces have been training militants near the border with Iraq and Jordan.

On June 6, the Pentagon announced the coalition conducted a new strike on pro-Syrian government forces as they entered the de-confliction zone with Russia and posed threat to its personnel. The force comprised of a tank, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons, armed technical vehicles and more than 60 soldiers. At least two Syrian servicemen were killed and more than 15 injured as a result of the attack.

On June 8, the US-led coalition bombed pro-Damascus forces near al-Tanf in the area of a de-confliction zone following an alleged attack by a combat drone resulting in no coalition forces’ casualties. This was the third attack by the coalition on Damascus’ allies in the area. The coalition targeted a drone and trucks with weapons.

Furthermore, on September 16, US-led coalition aircraft carried out four strikes against the Syrian Army near the Deir Ezzur airport, killing nearly 100 people.