Hours after a military base housing US troops was struck allegedly by an Iranian drone, the US Central Military Command (CENTCOM) dispatched its most trusted and combat-hardened fighter, the F-15E, to launch retaliatory strikes.
Tensions have significantly ratcheted between the two adversaries after intelligence officials announced that an Iranian kamikaze drone struck the military base and killed a US contractor.
The Avenger missile defense system, known as RLZ, was reportedly not fully operational during the alleged drone attack.
The F-15E retaliatory attacks were carried out after a US contractor died and five US servicemen and a second US contractor were injured.
According to a Pentagon media release, the casualties resulted from an unmanned aerial vehicle attack on a maintenance facility at a US-led anti-Islamic State coalition base close to Hasakah in northeast Syria on March 23.
The US Department of Defense stated that the F-15E fighters assigned to CENTCOM launched the attack at approximately 2:40 a.m. local time. “We’re continuing to assess the outcome of the strikes,” Ryder said.
“Initial indications are that the facilities were destroyed. These precision strikes were intended to protect and defend US personnel, and the US took proportionate and deliberate action to limit the risk of escalation and minimize casualties,” he added.
#BREAKING: US launches air strikes against Iranian IRGC and affiliates targets in Syria in retaliation for an earlier Iranian affiliated drone strike that killed one US contractor and injured five soldiers.
Initially everyone thought the attack was Israel.
US service members… pic.twitter.com/zD8kkREKpG
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) March 24, 2023
US intelligence officials said the UAV was “of Iranian origin.” The attack comes after the extensive use of Iranian kamikaze drones against Ukraine in the ongoing war. However, it is too soon to ascertain whether this was the first deadly Iranian kamikaze strike against the US forces.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, acting on orders from US President Joe Biden, stated that the strikes were carried out “in retaliation for [March 23] incident and a series of recent operations against Coalition forces in Syria by elements linked with the IRGC.”
The deployment of the F-15E for the retaliatory strike is significant given the impressive combat record of this USAF fighter jet. A fourth-generation fighter, the F-15E, is still being pressed for combat at a time when fifth-generation aircraft are roaring and sixth-generation planes are under development.
The F-15, for one, has over 100 kills to its name. The 50-year-old F-15 airframe remains a workhorse of the Air Forces of the US and its allies because of its massive payload, range, and speed. Deployed first by the United States at the height of the Cold War, the F-15 has an exceptional combat track record.
The F-15 was so powerful that it could outperform the speed of sound even while performing a vertical climb. The fighter jet is extremely fast, with a maximum attack range of 2,222 kilometers and a top speed of Mach 2.5.
The F-15 could cruise at Mach 0.9 without needing to use its afterburners, which gave it an astounding range and allowed it almost instantly to travel around the globe. All these incredible features and upgrades that have bolstered the capability of this aircraft have managed to keep it just as functional as it was in the 70s.
The F-15E Strike Eagle, which has conducted these retaliatory strikes, has an incredibly long range, high speed, and massive ordnance-carrying capabilities.
The Strike Eagle was equipped with a LANTRIN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night) forward-looking infrared laser and targeting pod. It could carry up to 24,000 pounds of ordnance, making it perfect for lethal ground strikes.
However, this is not the first time the USAF F-15E Strike Eagles have roared in the Middle East. The aircraft was extensively used in the Gulf War, where it was credited with destroying 60% of the Iraqi Medina Republican Guard’s total force. The plane subsequently saw action against non-state actors in the wider region.
Even as the counter-ISIS operations have subsided, F-15Es have scanned Syria almost nonstop for years. They are frequently scrambled when opposing aircraft or troops are nearing US positions.
Trouble Is Brewing In Syria, Again!
In the last 24 hours, tensions in Syria have risen between the US and Iranian-backed militia.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a human rights organization headquartered in the United Kingdom, militia members backed by Iran fired missiles toward the US base in Syria in retaliation to a strike by two F-15E multirole jets of the US Air Force.
“Iranian-backed militiamen stationed in a base near Ain Ali shrine in Al-Mayadeen countryside fired several missiles today morning, targeting positions in Al-Omar oil field which hosts the International Coalition’s largest base in Syria,” according to SOHR.
On March 24, US forces in Syria came under attack twice within 45 minutes, and another US personnel was injured as hostilities flared with Iranian-backed forces in Syria.
The first attack used multiple rockets that struck the coalition forces stationed at Mission Support Center Site Conoco. The second attack was conducted at Green Village using three kamikaze drones. The drone attack managed to damage a building.
#BREAKING: US forces and pro-Iranian forces currently battling in Eastern Syria.
This follows the US airstrike yesterday, in retaliation to a drone attack by Iranian-backed forces.
Pro-Iranian forces have been placed on High Alert following their attacks on 3 US military bases… pic.twitter.com/dIJJrMvPSY
— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) March 24, 2023
The fresh attacks were reported after a barrage of unconfirmed allegations of gunfire exchanges. More strikes between the US and Iranian-backed militias in Syria surfaced on social media. The US CENTCOM that oversees military operations in the region is yet to divulge more details.
However, the strikes conducted on March 24 are the most recent in an increasing number of retaliatory actions between the United States and groups supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
The CENTCOM has maintained that IRGC-backed militias have attacked numerous American and anti-ISIS coalition forces and installations in the last two years.
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