The Phaserl


How Did a 30 Year-Old Syrian Su-22 Defeat America’s Best Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile?

from Russia Insider:

It seems America’s AIM-9X heat-seeking missile has trouble rejecting Russian flares

When the US shot down the Syrian Su-22 over Syria ten days ago it took two missiles to do it.

The American F/A-18 jet fist fired the short-range AIM-9X heat-seeking missile, but the venerable Syrian fighter-bomber deployed flares which defeated the missile.

The Syrian jet was then brought down with a medium-range AIM-120 radar-guided missile.

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?

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

he 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.

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1 comment to How Did a 30 Year-Old Syrian Su-22 Defeat America’s Best Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile?

  • Ed_B

    Has the author of this article ever been in air-to-air combat? If he had been, he would be aware of a few critical pieces of into. First, the AIM-9 Sidewinder missile is not the latest and greatest missile in US inventory. This design is more than 60 years old and 1st saw combat in the Korean war in the early 1950s. It has been refined and improved over the years, so is somewhat better now than it was before the refinements. It is a heat-seeker. It looks for the hot exhaust of an enemy aircraft’s jet engine. Since it is looking for heat, it can be diverted by another heat source. In the right conditions, it will also track the sun until it runs out of fuel and crashes. Flares also work to divert such missiles, which is why US military jets have flare launchers on them. Second, the AIM-9 is shorter ranged and MUCH cheaper than the more advanced AIM-120 radar guided AMRAAM missile, so it is often the choice at “knife-fighting” ranges of a couple of miles or less. The AMRAAM missile is larger and has a longer range, which is to be expected of a more costly munition.

    The entire point here is that a Syrian jet WAS shot down by a US jet. When the 1st missile failed to get the job done, a 2nd and better missile was used to get the job done. All other experienced fighter pilots would have done the same thing in that situation.

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