Home » Aviation » Air Force F-15E Downs Armed Syrian UAV; Australia Suspends Syrian Anti-ISIS Air Strikes After Russian Threats


Air Force F-15E Downs Armed Syrian UAV; Australia Suspends Syrian Anti-ISIS Air Strikes After Russian Threats

An F-15E Strike Eagle arrives to receive fuel from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker during a flight in support of Operation Inherent Resolve May 23, 2017. US Air Force Air Force

An F-15E Strike Eagle arrives to receive fuel from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker during a flight in support of Operation Inherent Resolve May 23, 2017. US Air Force Air Force

A U.S. fighter shot down an armed Syrian regime unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) near the Jordan border on Tuesday.

According to the statement from U.S. Central Command, the Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle shot down the armed Iranian-built Shaheed-129 UAV at about 12:30 AM local time on Tuesday, or about 5:30 PM EST on Monday.

“The coalition forces were manning an established combat outpost to the northeast of At Tanf where they are training and advising partner ground forces in the fight against ISIS. This is the same location where another pro-regime UAV dropped munitions near coalition forces before it was shot down, June 8,” read the statement from CENTCOM.
“The F-15E intercepted the armed UAV after it was observed advancing on the coalition position. When the armed UAV continued to advance on the coalition position without diverting its course it was shot down.”

Iranian-built Shaheed 129 like the one shot down by a U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle

CENTCOM reiterated it would not hesitate to protect forces anti-regime Syrian ground forces that are aligned with the U.S. anti-ISIS coalition.

“The coalition has made it clear to all parties publically and through the de-confliction line with Russian forces that 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,” read the statement.
“Given recent events, the Coalition will not allow pro-regime aircraft to threaten or approach in close proximity to Coalition and partnered forces.”

The shoot-down of the Syrian UAV is the third incident since June 8 in which U.S. aircraft have downed aircraft that have made hostile moves against Anti-ISIS groups that are aligned with the U.S. On June 8, another Strike Eagle brought down a UAV near At Tanf.

Sunday, a F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) brought down a manned regime Sukhoi Su-22 fighter south of the ISIS stronghold in Raqqah, near the town of Ja’Din. The Su-22 had dropped ordnance on positions of the Syrian Democratic Forces before the Super Hornet downed the Sukhoi about a minute later.

The downing of the Su-22 prompted the Kremlin to issue a series of threats to coalition aircraft operating over Syria.

“In areas where Russian aviation is conducting combat missions in the Syrian skies, any flying [objects], including jets and unmanned aerial vehicles of the international coalition discovered west of the Euphrates River will be followed by Russian air and ground defenses as air targets,” the ministry announced in the state-controlled news site Sputnik.

Two Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Hornets take off in unison from RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory in 2017. ADF Photo

Following the Russian announcements on Monday, Australia announced it has suspended anti-ISIS air operations over Syria a day after the Kremlin issued its threats to U.S.-led coalition aircraft, the Australian Defence Force announced on Tuesday.

“As a precautionary measure, Australian Defence Force (ADF) strike operations into Syria have temporarily ceased,” Australia’s Department of Defence said in a statement.
“ADF operations in Iraq will continue as part of the coalition. … ADF personnel are closely monitoring the air situation in Syria, and a decision on the resumption of ADF air operations in Syria will be made in due course.”

Australia’s Operation Okra, their contribution to the coalition, has flown air strikes against ISIS in Syria since 2015. The Royal Australian Air Force operates six F/A-18 jets from an airfield the United Arab Emirates, in addition to a surveillance and logistics aircraft and about 400 support personnel, according to a Congressional Research Service report on allied contributions to anti-ISIS interventions.

  • DaSaint

    Please tell me that the Australians are not concerned that their F/A-18s will get mistaken for USN F/A-18s? Really? They only want to fly if there’s no risk of being shot at?

    • Tool

      Russia stated they would treat all coalition as targets, not just US. Your last sentence is still valid, though.

      • yeah, the RAF hasn’t stopped its flying or strikes.

  • sferrin

    This is what a “fair weather friend” is. If this is what the Aussies do, imagine how fast Canada would scurry back home.

    • LowObservable

      Get off your high horse. One of my friends was killed in Iraq in operations supporting the US coalition, tell his family their ‘fair weathered’.

    • J_kies

      For shame sir; the Aussies have been our very best ally historically including the really unpopular stuff like Vietnam. I expect the story behind this is more about the integration of communications and IFF issues where the Aussies aren’t on the top tier or integration with the US.

      We are perilously close to a no-sheet shooting war where tight integration on the coalition (or lack of same) looks like how our SAMs were more effective at blue-on-blue kills in both previous Gulf Wars. (Patriots combat kills are heavily weighted to killing blue aircraft).

  • tteng

    A Pakistani JF-17 also took out a Shaheed-129 over the weekend. A slide show in the mil section of the Chinese website Sina has some debris pictures including Czech made propeller (by woodcomp) and Austria made engine (by Rotax, which is owned by Canadian Bombardier).

  • Bailey Zhang

    F15E and F18EF involved, what next? F22? Don’t tell me WW3 is going start soon.

    • Bill

      A Strike Eagle shot down an Iraqi helicopter with a 2000# laser guided bomb in the Gulf War. They’re versatile!

      • publius_maximus_III

        A laser guided bomb used as an air-to-air missile, now how clever is that?

  • And the RAF still keeps flying. Aussies too scared?

  • Ctrot

    That Shaheed 129 sure has a unique design, I wonder where they came up with that idea? 😉

    • sferrin

      From China no doubt. 😉

    • J_kies

      Any basic aviation design class… Its not tough.

      • Ctrot

        It’s a bad copy of the Predator.

        • J_kies

          So what – the Predator was a simple implementation of a standard design rule set. It was intended to be easy and therefore cheap. The fact that anyone else can look up the same textbooks and get to the same answer shouldn’t be a surprise.

          • Ctrot

            Chinese are well known for their ability to steal and copy work done by others.

          • J_kies

            Denigrating the capabilities of prospective opponents is 1) racist and 2) pretty foolish as you consistently underestimate what they can do to you. I recall reading about the rather insulting view that a certain George Custer had for the various Indian tribes and their ability to fight.

          • Ctrot

            Facts are not and cannot be “racist”. I don’t discount Chinese abilities, I just stated a fact about how they developed those abilities: by stealing western technology.

          • J_kies
          • J_kies

            Sadly I think you actually believe that nonsense. Chinese aerospace is 85% homegrown (the other 15% is Russian imports like engines). They have a much larger academic and engineering base than we do. They graduate more engineers than we have college graduates. And finally; we gifted them with a running start courtesy of McCarthy. Google Qian Xuesen or Hsue-Shen Tsien

          • Ctrot

            Facts are not nonsense. It is a known fact that China has stolen much western technology and copied everything from western cars to russian aircraft aircraft from other countries.

          • J_kies

            Having reviewed much of the purported ‘theft’ such as the ‘W88 case’, sorry no the Chinese stuff is indeed homegrown or jointly with the Russians. They do violate copyrights and patents like a rash. When companies like Apple computer and Boeing (and L3) choose to do overseas manufacture, if China fails to exploit those data packages we should be gratified with their charity. ‘Facts’ like how China rips off all those technical projects aren’t actually facts, they are common misconceptions that get a lot of publication.

          • Andrew Sickafoose

            Basically Undergrad Aero Senior Design

  • publius_maximus_III

    Had no idea the Australians were involved. Are the French still participating?

    As for that Iranian-built drone, they probably reverse engineered the one we landed, intact, within their borders a few years ago during a previous administration (no names mentioned, but it starts with an “O”). Why doesn’t such technology have a self-destruct feature, to prevent such things from happening?

    • Bill

      I think the main reason is that self-destruct mechanisms add cost, maintenance, and safety and reliability issues. There is certainly a time and place for them.

  • muzzleloader

    I hope that Eagle driver didn’t waste a missile taking out a drone.

  • Bloggsy

    Australia temporarily suspended operations over Syria in order for the political side to discuss the risk of conflict with Russia. The Australia public, unlike its US counterparts, doesnt get a hardon about war. The only reason why Australia is there is to support the US as it has done for 70 years in every war, just or not. The US doesn’t have a better ally than Australia.

    And it is interesting that this week a poll showed support for a China is increasing and the US, decreasing in Australia. No prize for guessing why….