DAMASCUS, ($1=2,512.03 Syrian Pounds) – For the first time since the 1940s, a British pilot piloting a British Royal Air Force fighter jet shot down an enemy aircraft of any kind in aerial combat. This happened this week, when the RAF pilot with his Typhoon fired a rocket and shot down a drone over Syria, BulgarianMilitary.com has learned.
The British pilot used an air-to-air missile, an infrared-guided MBDA Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or ASRAAM. The incident happened near the US and Allied base in At Tanf, located near the borders of Iraq and Jordan. Two drones were flying to the base. One changed course, but the other continued to fly to the base, forcing the British to lift their fighter jet and shoot down the drone. The Allied base at At Tanf is one of the most attacked military bases in the region.
“This strike is an impressive demonstration of the RAF’s ability to take out hostile targets in the air which pose a threat to our forces,” said the U.K. Defense Secretary Ben Wallace in a statement. “We continue to do everything we can alongside our Coalition partners to stamp out the terrorist threat and protect our personnel and our partners.” The British Ministry of Defense has confirmed that hitting and lowering the drone is a very important indicator of the capabilities of the royal pilots, as the drone was very small.
Military experts say there has been no known case of a drone being shot down by an air-to-air missile. In addition to the British, the Australian Royal Air Force is also equipped with this type of missile. ASRAAM is known to have a longer range than equivalent heat-guided missiles, such as the AIM-9X Sidewinder.
In 2017, the Americans shot down a drone again in the area of the allied base At Tanf but did not specify the type of weapon they used. Experts believe that the weapons used were for electronic warfare and thus burned the boards of the drone.
About ASRAAM by MBDA
ASRAAM is in service with the Royal Air Force as its Within Visual Range (WVR) Dominance weapon. The weapon is also in operational service with the Royal Australian Air Force on its F/A-18 Hornet.
In WVR air combat, the ability to strike first is vital. A pilot engaging an enemy needs a missile that reacts more rapidly than ever before with the speed and agility to maximise the probability of a kill, regardless of evasive target manoeuvres or the deployment of countermeasures. ASRAAM has proven this capability.
ASRAAM accepts target information via the aircraft sensors, such as the radar or helmet mounted sight but can also act as an autonomous infrared search and track system. The RAAF has demonstrated successful ‘over the shoulder’ firing in Lock On After Launch (LOAL) mode against target drones that were behind the wing-line of the launch aircraft.
Already fully integrated with proven reliability on Typhoon, Tornado and F/A-18, ASRAAM is also being integrated onto the F-35 Lightning II. Proven capability demonstrated by firings from a range of aircraft, including: F-16, F/A-18, Tornado F3, Tornado GR4 and Typhoon aircraft.
The civil war in Syria
The Syrian civil war has been going on for almost a decade. Attempts by movements such as the Syrian Democratic Forces to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have failed.
The Syrian democratic forces are armed by allies and the United States, while the Syrian army is armed mainly by Russia. Russia is the only country officially invited to Syria by President Bashar al-Assad.
In 2017, the United States launched a massive missile strike on Bashar al-Assad’s forces after a report emerged that the Syrian president had used chemical weapons to attack his people in the country. Syria and Russia deny such actions.
During his tenure, US President Donald Trump decided to withdraw much of US troops from Syria, leaving several troops to guard Syria’s oil fields on the pretext of “falling into the hands of Islamic State.”
With the withdrawal of the United States, Turkey comes to the fore, declaring it necessary to deal with the Kurds and the PKK movement in the northern part of the country, which borders Turkey. That is why Erdogan is sending troops in an attempt to build a stable and secure 30km zone between Syria and Turkey, which will prevent future terrorist attacks on Turkish territory, as it is.
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