Two American fighter pilots who intercepted Syrian combat jets over northern Syria last week said they came within 2,000 feet of the planes. The Syrians were never aware they were being shadowed.

The F-22 Raptor stealth fighter might be all that it is advertised to be–and then some. 5th Generation fighters have been taking the brunt of criticism lately. But stealth technology used in the most recent incidents seems to be working well–even if stealth was not the only tool used in Syrian the intercept.

US Pilots reported they snuck in on the Syrians completely unobserved.

“I followed him around for all three of his loops,” one of the American pilots, a 38-year-old Air Force major, told USA TODAY Wednesday in the first detailed account of the incident. “He didn’t appear to have any idea I was there.”

Syrian jets had dropped bombs near a U.S. adviser team with Kurdish forces in northern Syria earlier which prompted the intercept. The US and Syria are not at war, but the Pentagon has warned Syria that American forces were authorized to take action to defend its troops.

Maj. Gen. Jay Silveria, Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, said he was prepared to order the pilots to down the Syrian aircraft if they threatened coalition forces. “I wouldn’t have hesitated,” he said.

“All I needed at that point to shoot them down was a report from the ground that they were being attacked,” Silveria said. “We were in a perfect position to execute that with some pretty advanced weaponry.”

F-22 Raptors

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During the stealth encounter, the two F-22’s asked permission to get closer to the Syrian aircraft.

Permission was granted. One of the F-22s watched as the other maneuvered behind the Syrian aircraft to get a closer look. After about 15 minutes, the jet left the area, apparently unaware it was being followed.

Moments later a second Syrian jet entered the airspace. The American pilots repeated the sequence. Neither of the Syrian planes appeared to be carrying weapons, the pilots said.

“I’m thinking how do I de-escalate this scenario to the best of my ability and also keep us in a safe position while doing so,” said the second pilot involved in last week’s encounter, a 30-year-old captain.

Evidently, you use your stealth capability! There have been no further incidents since Syrian aircraft first dropped bombs in the area.

You can read Jim Michaels full article here.

Top Photo: Lockheed Martin