According to a source in the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF), Lieutenant Colonel Ali Fahd took off in the afternoon of June 18 from the T4 airbase east of Homs.
From an older video we know that the warplane is a Soviet made ground attack Su-22M4 with the serial number “3224”.
According to our source the Su-22M4 was loaded with six general purpose OFAB 250-270 bombs. Ali Fahd’s mission was to strike ISIS fighters and vehicles attempting to withdrew from Rusafah in the province of Raqqah towards Sukhnah in the province of Homs and Oqerbat in the eastern Hama countryside – near Ali Fahd’s home town of Salamyiah. Connection with Ali Fahd was lost after reaching the operation area over Rusafah.
From the other end of the story Mary Walash, a CBS producer, said that US Navy A/F-18E Super Hornet fired two missiles at the Syrian warplane. It had to fire a second missile after the first missed.
According to Walash’s story, the engagement range was below 6 miles meaning that mostly the A/F-18E used the IR guided AIM-9.
Probably it used the AIM-9X variant that was introduced on the A/F-18E of the US Navy in 2007. The US introduced the AIM-9X as an extremely advanced short range air-to-air missile designed to overtake high maneuverable Soviet and Russian warplanes from the MiG-29 and Su-27 families.
However, Ali Fahd was able to dodge the first missile and even the second exploded near Ali Fahd’s Su-22M4 –due to the Laser\IR fuze in the AIM-9X – and was not able to hit it directly according to Walash.
It’s fair to say that Lieutenant colonel Ali Fahd did everything he could in his cold war era warplane that got no radar (it’s a ground attack warplane). It’s also fair to say that the US pilot weapon chose was essential for his success as Ali Fahd’s plane is not equipped with an IR\UV Warning Sensor.
However it got a Radar Warning Sensor. If the US pilot chose to use the AIM-120 with active radar guidance, Ali Fahd would have known that he is being targeted and the F/A-18E would have lost the element of surprise.
Furthermore, losing connection with Ali Fahd allows to suggest that his communications may had been jammed right before he was downed. SF was not able to receive info if Ali Fahd preformed any airstrike against ISIS before being hit. As connection was jammed it may mean Ali Fahd’s warplane was downed even before dropping a single bomb. This supports the version provided by the Syrian government and the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that said Ali Fahd’s Su-22M4 never attacked positions of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
According to Ali Fahd’s relative Al-Masdar News reporter, Majd Fahed, Ali Fahd was captured by the SDF and Tiger Forces Leader General Suheil Al-Hassan is negotiating with SDF in order to free Ali Fahd.
The SDF side has released no official comments on the situation. However, SDF sources confirmed that Ali Fahd was captured by the SDF suggesting that the group will release him in the end.