Initial reports are ISIS has claimed the downing of it’s first coalition aircraft, a Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) F-16AM. The government of Jordan is confirming the loss of the aircraft, and as photos indicate, the pilot has been captured. Certainly not good news for the pilot and the Jordanians, who are especially skittish about their involvement in Operation Inherent Resolve, the ongoing campaign aimed at defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS is known to have a stockpile of the Russian-made SA-18 Grouse, a third-generation MANPADS–or man-portable air defense system. The shoulder-fired weapon has long been in the Syrian government arsenal and an unknown number of them have fallen into the wrong hands.
Even so, U.S. officials are refuting the claim the aircraft was downed by hostile fire.
“We will support efforts to ensure (the pilot’s) safe recovery, and will not tolerate ISIL’s attempts to misrepresent or exploit this unfortunate aircraft crash for their own purposes,” said CENTCOM commander General Lloyd J. Austin III, who is overseeing all coalition military operations in Iraq and Syria.
“Jordan holds the group and its supporters responsible for the safety of the pilot and his life,” says a Jordanian military official.
The downed pilot’s father made a plea to ISIS and is quoted as saying, “May Allah plant mercy in your hearts and may you release my son.”
Stay tuned to FighterSweep for updates as they become available.
(Featured Photograph courtesy of Twitter)