A US F-18 from the USS George H.W. Bush just scored America’s first air-to-air kill since 1999

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The USS George H.W. Bush.
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US Navy

A US F/A-18 took off from the USS George H. W. Bush in the Mediterranean on Sunday and shot down a Syrian Su-22 that reportedly dropped bombs near US-backed forces, scoring the first American air-to-air kill in decades.

The US Air Force has not shot down a manned aircraft since 1999.

Instead, the focus of the US’s airpower as of late has turned to providing air support against insurgencies or forces that do not have fighter jets of their own.

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An F-18 aboard the USS George H.W. Bush shows its air-to-ground heavy load out.
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DoD photo

The F/A-18, the ubiquitous fighter aircraft aboard all US aircraft carriers, has seen its combat role shift almost solely to air-to-ground, with the USS Harry Truman breaking the all-time record for bombs dropped: 1,118 in 2016.

However, pilots aboard the Bush could see more air-to-air.

On Monday, Russia announced that it would treat all US and US-led-coalition jets west of the Euphrates River in Syria as targets for its air force. Russia has a few dozen fighter and bomber jets stationed in Syria, while the US has a carrier wing aboard the Bush and a few other squadrons at nearby Udeid and Incirlik air bases.