On June 18, F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot Lt. Cmdr. Michael “Mob” Tremel shot down a Sukhoi Su-22 during a close-air support mission in the skies above Syria, the first U.S. air-to-air kill since 1999. And although Tremel delivered a riveting first-person account of the shoot down during a Sept. 10 symposium, you can now witness the dogfight with your own eyes.
Here’s the clip, as seen through the ATFLIR targeting modules affixed to the front of each Hornet.
The footage of the shoot down shows up partway through a 14-minute cruise video from Navy Strike Fighter Squadron 31 (also known as the “Tomcatters”), released to mark the end of VFA-31’s deployment to the Middle East with the USS George H.W. Bush’s Carrier Air Wing 8 as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. The War Zone, which first surfaced the cruise video on Sept. 20, notes that Tremel is actually a pilot with the VFA-87 “Golden Warriors,” but footage of the shootdown makes an appearance regardless.
Repeated radio calls to the Su-22, a Cold War-era attack jet designed to strike targets on the ground, went unheaded. According to The Drive, even after Tremel “thumped” the aircraft three times — which means flying over the jet and popping flares — the warnings were ignored. As the Su-22 came within striking distance and began to dive, it released its ordnance, which landed near U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.
Tremel — cleared under the rules of engagement — locked onto the Su-22 with an AIM-9X Sidewinder and fired, but the Sukhoi popped flares. “I lose the smoke trail and I have no idea what happened at that time,” Tremel said at the symposium. Despite the venerable Sidewinder’s rep as a highly advanced piece of ordnance, the infrared-guided missile was drawn away by flares.
The enemy bird was still in the air and still a threat to friendly forces on the ground, so it was time to “try something different,” Tremel recounted. He switched to the slightly slower-to-arm, radar-guided AIM-120 AMRAAM, and cut loose with one. “It’ll do its job,” Tremel said. And it did. The AMRAAM struck the rear of the Su-22 and exploded. As the aircraft pitched and then plummeted to the earth, the pilot ejected.
The whole incident lasted less than eight minutes, and the Su-22’s last moments start around 6:10 in the full video below, but the entire sizzle reel is worth a watch.