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US pilot who made first air-to-air kill since 1999 breaks silence over incident



© REUTERS/ U.S. Navy

The American fighter pilot who became the first to shoot down an enemy aircraft in battle in 18 years has broken his silence about the experience in an interview with British military outlet

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Michael Tremel, an F/A-18E Super Hornet pilot assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 87 aboard the carrier USS George H.W. Bush, says the entire fateful battle with a Syrian Air Force Su-22 Fitter on June 18 lasted about eight minutes.

Tremel engaged a Syrian pilot who had been dropping munitions on US-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces south of the city of Tabqah in the Raqqa Governorate. Tremel made the call to shoot the plane down himself.

In a report issued after the incident, US officials added that the Su-22 was shot down in accordance with the rules of engagement, with Tremel’s first missile (an infrared-guided AIM-9X Sidewinder) missing and his second (a radar-guided AIM-120 AMRAAM) finding its mark.

I did not directly communicate with the Syrian jet, but he was given several warnings by our supporting [E-3 Sentry Airborne Early Warning and Control] aircraft,” Tremel said, according to the report. “So yes, we released ordnance and yes it hit a target that was in the air, but it really just came back to defending those guys that were doing the hard job on the ground and taking that ground back from [Daesh].

Tremel added that he didn’t see the Syrian pilot eject, but his wingman did. He downplayed his own accomplishment in his comments.

“When you think about the shoot-down, in the grand scheme of things… [my wing-man and I] flew over 400 missions in support of friendly forces on the ground.”

In January, the USS Bush deployed from its homeport in Norfolk, Virginia, and undertook a six-month campaign of airstrikes against Daesh from the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Inherent Resolve. The Bush’s deployment is wrapping up, but it will immediately be replaced with another aircraft carrier: the USS Nimitz.

Speaking of his encounters with Russian aircraft in the unfriendly skies over Syria, Tremel said that “they behaved with great professionalism at all times.” Earlier in June, a US aircraft shot down an Iranian drone in the first US air-to-air engagement of an aircraft since 2009.

The last time a US pilot made an air-to-air kill was during the NATO bombing campaign in Kosovo in 1999.

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Air Force

Take a look how a US Pilot belly-lands A-10 Warthog



A US airman in Michigan was forced to make the least-worst decision out of a set of bad options after radio communication died, the plane’s canopy flew off, and the landing gear wouldn’t release.

US Air Force Capt. Brett DeVries made an emergency landing on July 20 after the perfect storm of awful flight conditions dawned on him. “In that moment, your training kicks in. The training – that’s what saves you and your wingman,” DeVries said in August 14 news release.

A-10 Warthog Following Belly-Landing (Photo: US National Guard)

His A-10 and other aircraft were conducting practice raids when the plane’s seven-barrel, Gatling-type 30mm GAU-8 Avenger cannon stopped working and the pilot’s canopy popped off. This occurred as the jet was cruising at about 375 miles per hour.

A-10 Pilots (Photo: US Air National Guard)

DeVries considered simply ejecting from the aircraft but was worried that with all the Hog’s mid-flight snafus the aircraft might not be able to conduct a safe and successful exit. DeVries and fellow Warthog pilot Maj. Shannon Vickers talked through “every possibility,” Vickers said, and finally decided to land on an airstrip in Alpena, a city in northeast Michigan about 250 miles from Detroit.

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Air Force

Teenager hacks US Air Force in “Bug Bounty”



In April 2017, the US Department of Defense announced its “Hack the Air Force” bug bounty program, in which some 600 hackers and security researchers from around the world would be invited to hack USAF cyber programs and determine security vulnerabilities. The “bug bounty” ran from May 30-June 23.

Marten Mickos, chief executive of HackerOne, a contractor that runs hacker programs like “Hack the Pentagon” and “Hack the Army,” asserted that “It was the most successful [DoD] bug bounty so far,” according to The Hill.

Statistics released by the USAF and HackerOne reveal that the Air Force bug bounty program was more successful than a similar Pentagon program, which found 70 fewer vulnerabilities, or an Army cyber defense bounty program, which missed some 90 vulnerabilities.

Not all security vulnerabilities are created equal, however, and some are more serious than others. The “Hack the Air Force” program awarded $130,000 to hackers — $30,000 more than what was awarded in the Army’s bounty program, indicating that the Air Force hackers uncovered some severe security issues. This is the first time that the field of hackers included participants from overseas, and the improvement was noted as foreign-born hackers were responsible for uncovering some 25 percent of vulnerabilities.

The largest award, however, went to 17-year-old Jack Cable, a high school student who won a significant cash prize after identifying 30 major vulnerabilities in the USAF cyber security infrastructure.

Jack took home loads of bug bounty money; The Pentagon paid $130,000 in prizes, as well as $1,000 and $5,000 for each security flaw.

Two participants in the program were active duty military personnel and 33 participants came from outside the US. Top participating hackers were under 20 years old, including a 17-year-old who submitted 30 valid reports and earned the largest bounty sum during the challenge window,” the Air Force said in a statement.

In an interview with Marketplace, Cable said that he discovered an XML external entities flaw.

I found that I could give it a URL and the application would make a request to that website. And I was able to escalate that after working on it for a few hours into a remote code execution. So that would allow me to basically do whatever I wanted. So I could access all the user data that was on the website and I could change anything that I wanted to,” the teen stated.

When asked why he decided to be one of the “good hackers,” Cable said, “I try to be because it’s really risky if you try to exploit vulnerabilities that you find. You could wind up in jail or be sued by different companies. The advantages of these bug counting programs are great because you get recognition from the companies, they pay you and you get to say you found a vulnerability rather than just having to hide it.”

Bug bounty programs have become increasingly popular among government entities and big companies including Facebook, Google and Uber looking to patch up their cyber security holes.

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