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February 25, 2024 3:08 am

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Russian Pilots Less Aggressive Toward US Drones Over Syria Following The Arrival of F-35s


A U.S. Air Drive F-35 Lightning II assigned to the 421th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron taxis down the flightline after touchdown at a base within the U.S. Central Command space of accountability, Aug. 15, 2023. (U.S. Air Drive picture by Tech. Sgt. Alex Fox Echols III)

With the arrival of the F-35 stealth fighters, the Russian pilots have grow to be much less aggressive in direction of U.S. belongings within the Center East area.

The deployment to the CENTCOM space of accountability of a squadron of F-35A Lightning II plane from Hill Air Drive Base, Utah, has already had a constructive impact, U.S. officers told to Air & Area Forces Journal: Russian pilots have grow to be much less aggressive towards U.S. forces.

The fifth technology plane, assigned to the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, had been deployed to “assist defend pursuits, promote regional safety and safeguard freedom of navigation within the area,” and deter Iran’s current makes an attempt to grab  business oil tankers within the Persian Gulf, however their presence has additionally coincided with a distinct behaviour on the Russian aspect.

When the deployment was introduced, protection officers stated that, if required, the F-35s could possibly be utilized in contested airspace over the Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz and over Syria if Russia offered a extra vital risk following the tense interactions between Russian Su-35s and U.S. remotely piloted plane.

Regardless of the U.S. has not modified the way in which its MQ-9 Reaper drones function in anti-ISIS missions (most of the time in northwest Syria,  the place Daesh militants have sought refuge) “now we have seen a lower within the degree of aggressiveness of the Russian actions towards our MQ-9s,” the official stated.

In response to the U.S. officers, the U.S. drones are nonetheless being intercepted by the Russians with one to 2 plane however doing so much less usually and with out attempting to instantly intervene with U.S. flight operations, a big shift in comparison with what occurred in July when quite a lot of Russian Su-35S plane flew dangerously near a U.S. MQ-9 drone over Syria and “harassed” the Reaper additionally deploying flares from a place instantly overhead the Reaper with only some meters of separation between plane. In one of many “shut encounters”, one of many Russian flares struck the U.S. MQ-9, severely damaging its propeller.

For sure, the F-35s aren’t the one belongings deployed to the area: together with the Lightning II plane, two squadrons of F-16s and one in all A-10s are deployed within the space, along with a P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, so it’s attainable that the change within the behaviour on the Russian aspect, if confirmed, was attributable to the mixed power the U.S. moved to the CENTCOM AOR.

Anyway, traditionally, U.S. stealth fighters have all the time had a deterrence functionality within the Center East disaster: for positive, a few of our readers will bear in mind the intercept of two Iranian F-4s by two U.S. F-22s in 2013. The Iranian Raptors had been getting a bit too near an American MQ-1 Predator drone flying an intelligence gathering mission in worldwide airspace some 16 miles off Iran: Chief of Employees Gen. Mark Welsh later defined that an F-22 stealth fighter escorting the UAV (Unmanned Aerial Automobile) silently flew subsequent to the 2 Iranian Phantoms, checked their armament, popped up on their left wing after which radioed: “you actually should go dwelling!” One thing reminding the well-known “Watch the birdie” of Goose and Maverick in Top Gun.

In 2016, over Syria, two Syrian Su-24 Fencer trying to fly over a Kurdish-held space in northeastern Syria the place U.S. SOF (Particular Operations Forces) had been working, had been intercepted by U.S. F-22 and inspired to depart the airspace.

In brief, U.S. stealth fighters have all the time made their presence felt within the area (regardless of the actual fact they often don’t function in stealth mode and carry radar reflectors for his or her missions within the theatre).

A U.S. Air Drive F-35A Lightning II from the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron refuels above the U.S. Central Command space of accountability Aug. 1, 2023. (U.S. Air Drive picture by Senior Airman Jacob Cabanero)

In Europe, Russian pilots have been “comparatively secure {and professional}” since one in all their Su-27 hit and forced to crash an MQ-9 throughout an intercept over the Black Sea in March, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander Gen. James B. Hecker said Aug. 18 throughout a Protection Writers Group occasion, Air & Area Forces Journal reported.



David Cenciotti is a journalist primarily based in Rome, Italy. He’s the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of many world’s most well-known and browse army aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for main worldwide magazines, together with Air Forces Month-to-month, Fight Plane, and plenty of others, overlaying aviation, protection, struggle, trade, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown a number of fight planes with completely different air forces. He’s a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Drive, a personal pilot and a graduate in Pc Engineering. He has written 5 books and contributed to many extra ones.

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