The same day news broke that Russia apparently fabricated an interaction between a single U.S. F-22 and three Russian jets over Syria, the Russia Air Force found themselves face-to-face with the real thing: and it didn’t play out quite like they’d imagined.
While CENTCOM was issuing a statement debunking Russia’s account of the first ever intercept of an F-22 by a Russia’s advanced Su-35S, the real thing was taking place over the Euphrates River in Syria, which serves as the “deconfliction zone’s” dividing line between U.S.-backed troops, and Russian-backed Syrian forces. This deconfliction zone was established to ensure American and Russian or Syrian forces did not find themselves engaging one another as the various groups continue operations to combat ISIS throughout the region. Earlier this year, American fighters shot down a Syrian Su-22 as well as two Iranian drones over Syria.
What now appears to be the first ever (actual) interaction between a Russian Su-35 and American F-22s actually began in a similar fashion to the fictional Russian account released earlier this week, with one notable exception: it was a Russian Su-25 close air support aircraft that crossed over the Euphrates, violated the deconfliction zone and failed to respond to American calls for them to return to their own airspace. Two F-22s were scrambled to intercept and ensure the safety of American-backed forces east of the river, and it wasn’t long before their more powerful sibling, the modern Su-35, entered the fray.
The F-22s conducted multiple maneuvers to persuade the Su-25s to depart our de-conflicted airspace, including the release of chaff and flares in close proximity to the Russian aircraft and placing multiple calls on the emergency channel to convey to the Russian pilots that they needed to depart the area,” Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said.