This is the inside story behind the F-18 Super Hornet's first enemy jet kill

On June 18, a US Navy pilot shot down a Syrian fighter jet south of Tabqah after it dropped bombs near US-backed forces, also known as Syrian Democratic Forces, according to US Central Command.

It was the first time a US pilot made an air-to-air kill since the Kosovo conflict in 1999.

And now, for the first time since the incident, pilot Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel, explained to savetheroyalnavy.org exactly what happened that day.

Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ignacio D. Perez

Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Ignacio D. Perez

“The whole incident lasted about eight minutes,” Tremel told the site. “I did not directly communicate with the Syrian Jet but he was given several warnings by our supporting AWACS aircraft.”

Central Command said that after pro-Syrian fighter jets bombed the SDF-held town of Ja’Din around 4:30 p.m., they called Russia on the ‘de-confliction line’ to get them to stop the air raids. At 6:43 p.m., a Syrian Su-22 dropped more ordnance, and in response, Tremel, flying an F/A-18E Super Hornet, shot the fighter jet down.

Here’s the rest of Tremel’s story:

“So yes, we released ordnance and yes it hit a target that was in the air, but it really just came back to defending those guys that were doing the hard job on the ground and taking that ground back from ISIS … I didn’t see the pilot eject but my wingman observed his parachute … When you think about the shoot-down, in the grand scheme of things … we [our squadron] flew over 400 missions in support of friendly forces on the ground … [Russia] behaved with great professionalism at all times.”

A Polish Su-22 Fitter at the 2010 Royal International Air Tattoo. Photo from Wikimedia commons

Tremel also said that he first shot at the Su-22 with an infrared guided AIM-9X Sidewinder short range air-to-air missile, but the Syrian jet released decoy flares, and the missile missed.

He then fired a second radar-guided AIM-120 AMRAAM missile, which destroyed the Su-22.

Tremel made the call himself to shoot down the Su-22 in accordance with the rules of engagement, according to Military.com.

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