Islamic State releases interview with downed Jordanian pilot

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Islamic State releases interview with downed Jordanian pilot


Islamic State militants recover the cockpit from the Jordanian F-16. Most of the rest of the wreckage appears to have landed in the Euphrates.. Photo: Islamic State​

The Islamic State has released an interview purportedly with the Jordanian F-16 pilot who was captured by the militant group in Syria on 24 December. Although the interview includes some details that the militants would have been unlikely to know, the claim that he was shot down remains dubious.

According to the transcript published in the Islamic State's English-language Dabiqmagazine, 1st Lieutenant Muadh Safi Yusuf al-Kasabiah said he and a second Jordanian pilot took off from Muwaffaq al-Salti Air Base (also known as Shahid Muwaffaq or Al-Azraq Air Base) in Al-Zarqa province at 06:15 local time, received air-to-air refuelling at 07:55, and rendezvoused with a group of F-16s and F-15s from Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The interview said the Jordanian F-16s were tasked with protecting the strike aircraft from a possible attack by Syrian interceptors and surface-to-air missiles: an assignment that would presumably require them to be armed with air-to-air and anti-radiation missiles.

"Our role in the mission was to be sweepers and cover for the striker jets. We sweep the area to destroy any anti-aircraft weaponry on the ground and provide cover in case enemy jets appear," Lt Kasabiah supposedly told his captors.

"We entered the region of Al-Raqqah [in Syria] to sweep the area, then the striker jets entered to begin their attack. My plane was struck by a heat-seeking missile. I heard and felt its hit … the plane began to deviate from its normal flight path, so I ejected. I landed in the Furat [Euphrates] River by parachute and the seat caught on some ground, keeping me fixed until I was captured."

US Central Command (CENTCOM) released a statement on 24 December saying: "Evidence clearly indicates that [the Islamic State] did not down the aircraft as the terrorist organisation is claiming." CENTCOM did not provide further details, but it would have known if the Jordanian F-16 was above the engagement envelope of the short-range, heat-seeking missile systems known to be in the hands of the Islamic State.

The Jordanian Armed Forces released a statement on the following day saying the cause of the crash had not been determined due to the lack of access to the wreckage.

Lt Kasabiah also purportedly said that US and French jets are flying from Muwaffaq al-Salti Air Base and one American pilot was killed when his jet crashed in early December.

The French Ministry of Defence has previously announced that it has deployed three Mirage 2000D multirole jets to Jordan.

While the US has not confirmed that it has any aircraft in the country, it said that one of its pilots was killed when his F-16 crashed in an unspecified location in southwest Asia on 1 December. CNN reported that the crash took place in Jordan.

Lt Kasabiah did not apparently mention the Belgian, Danish, and Dutch F-16s that have reportedly deployed to Muwaffaq al-Salti as part of the coalition against the Islamic State.

Islamic State releases interview with downed Jordanian pilot - IHS Jane's 360
 
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Wow, this interview should be interesting. I wonder why the need for so much deployment?.
 
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