US Fighter Jet Tracking Russian Su-35 Over Syria Suffered Sensor Malfunction, Report Says

The Russian and US militaries set up an air ‘deconfliction mechanism’ over Syria in the fall of 2015 to reduce tensions and rule out accidental aerial incidents and escalations. Since then, the two countries have largely managed to avoid clashes involving Russian and American forces. But there have been exceptions.

A US F/A-18E Super Hornet monitoring a Russian Su-35 fighter jet suffered a failure of its Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera during a mission over Syria in 2017, the RAND Corporation, a California-based think tank doing research for the US military, has revealed in a report.

According to think tank, the sensor breakdown took place on 18 June 2017, when US fighters assigned to carry out a close air support (CAS) mission to assist US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) troops on the ground in northeast Syria got into a dogfight with a Syrian Su-22 fighter-bomber as it approached SDF positions.

“Even before the Syrian Su-22 Fitter arrived on scene, there was reason for the Navy pilots to consider potential air-to-air contingencies. First, Syrian regime ground forces were operating in proximity to the SDF, so just as coalition aircraft were overhead to provide support to their local partners, it was possible Syrian aircraft would be doing the same in support of pro-regime forces. In addition, a Russian Su-35 Flanker fighter aircraft arrived overhead and began circling the CAS stack,” the report indicated.

The report does not elaborate on what these…

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