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Gulf War Air Combat
Part of Gulf War
Date Gulf War
17 January 1991 – 28 February 1991
After Gulf War
29 February 1991 - 3 March 2003
Location Iraq and Kuwait
United States
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg Saudi Arabia
Flag of Iraq (1991–2004).svg Iraq
Commanders and leaders
United States Chuck Horner
United States Norman Schwarzkopf
United States Colin Powell
United Kingdom Andrew Wilson
United Kingdom Bill Wratten
Saudi Arabia Khalid bin Sultan
Saudi Arabia Saleh Al-Muhaya
Iraq Saddam Hussein
Iraq Ali Hassan al-Majid
Over 1,000 Aircraft 750 Operational Aircraft
Casualties and losses
one USN FA-18 Hornet and one RAF Panavia Tornado and 3-4 Aircraft 23-44 aircraft lost in air-air combat varying on report[1]

In the Gulf War of 1990–1991, when the Coalition intervened, they faced the world's fourth largest air force to combat. In the opening days of the war, many air-air engagements occurred, where Iraqi interceptors would engage Coalition ones and vice-versa. This is a list of all known air-to-air engagements that occurred during the Gulf War.

Gulf WarEdit

17 January 1991Edit

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF MiG-29

The first air-air kills of the war occurred when two USAF F-15Cs shot down two Iraqi MiG-29s.[2]

USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF Mirage F1s

Later on the same night, an F-15C scored a double-kill against two Mirages with AIM-7 missiles. His wingman scored another kill on a third Mirage F1, for a total of three kills in the dogfight.[2]

USN F/A-18s vs. IRAF MiG-25s

On the first night of the war, two F/A-18's from the carrier USS Saratoga were flying outside of Baghdad when two Iraqi MiG-25PDs interceptors from the 96th Squadron engaged them. In the beyond-visual-range (BVR) kill, one of the Iraqi MiGs piloted by lieutenant colonel Zuhair Dawood, fired an R-40 missile. The missile impacted Scott Speicher's jet head on when he was travelling Mach 0.92. The impact sent the aircraft spiraling downwards and most people believe Speicher died on the impact of the missile.[2]

USN F/A-18s vs. IRAF MiG-21s

Two F/A-18s from VFA-81, the same as Scott Speicher, shot down two MiG-21s, one with an AIM-7 Sparrow missile and one with an AIM-9 Sidewinder missile, in a brief dogfight with their bombs still latched on.[2]

USAF F-15Es vs IRAF MiG-29s

On the opening night of the war two MiG-29s attempted to engage a flight of USAF F-15Es. One of the MiGs crashed while flying at low altitude but the other MiG pressed on. One of the F-15Es fired an AIM-9 Sidewinder when the MiG locked him up but missed. Several other F-15Es simultaneously tried to engage the lone MiG-29 but were unable to get the kill. One F-15E was actually flying past the Iraqi jet and maneuvered in for the kill but the pilot hesitated to take the shot because he was unsure of his wingmen's location and because he did not get a good tone with the Sidewinder missile.[2]

USAF EF-111 vs. IRAF Mirage F-1

On the first night of the war, Captain Brent Brandon was flying his EF-111 "Spark Vark" on an electronic warfare mission ahead of a group of jets on a bombing run. Several IRAF Dassault Mirage F1s came in and engaged the flight. One of them went after the unarmed EF-111. Captain Brandon executed a tight turn and launched chaff to avoid the missiles being fired by the Mirage. A F-15 on the same flight, piloted by Robert Graeter, went after the Mirage trying to protect the EF-111. The Mirage launched a missile which the Raven avoided by launching chaff. Captain Brandon decided to head for the deck to try to evade his pursuer. As he went down he pulled up to avoid the ground, the Mirage followed him through, though the Mirage went straight into the ground. An unarmed EF-111 thus scored an air-air victory against a Dassault Mirage F1, although Graeter was credited with a kill. The EF-111A pilots won the Air Force Flying Cross.[3]

USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-25s

Two IRAF MiG-25s fired missiles at a group of F-15Cs escorting a bombing run in Iraq (which were evaded by the F-15s). The F-15Cs gave chase, but were forced to give up when the MiGs outran them. A total of 10 missiles were fired at the MiGs.[2]

USAF F-111s vs. IRAF MiG-23

An Iraqi MiG-23 fired a R-24T missile at a F-111 on a bombing run and scored a hit, although the bomber made it safely back to base. Another similar incident occurred with the same Iraqi interceptor several minutes later, this F-111 also made it back to base despite the severe damage to the aircraft. This is Iraq's only aerial victory of the Gulf War using MiG-23s.[4]

IRAF MiG-29 vs USAF F-111 and B-52G

An Iraqi MiG-29 struck an F-111 aircraft with a R60 missile, though the sturdy F-111 stayed airworthy. Several minutes later the same pilot fired a R27 missile at a B-52G on a bombing run, severely damaging it.[4]

19 January 1991Edit

USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-25s

In a brief dogfight, two F-15Cs engaged and shot down two Iraqi MiG-25s attempting to engage them, both using AIM-7 missiles.[2][3]

USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-29s

Two F-15Cs piloted by Captains Craig Underhill and Cesar Rodriguez spotted a pair of MiG-29s and gave chase when AWACS picked up Sayhood and his wingman who continued their patrol defending Iraqi airspace. Sayhood and his wingman promptly engaged the two American aircraft and one of the most dramatic dogfights of the Gulf War ensued. The two MiGs and F-15s flew straight at each other, each attempting to visually identify their aggressors. Underhill was facing Sayhood's wingman, while Sayhood himself was facing Rodriguez. Underhill fired an AIM-7 at Sayhood's wingman promptly hitting him head on, killing him instantly. At the same time this was happening, Sayhood locks up Rodriguez, throwing him onto the defensive. Rodriguez proceeded to dive down to the deck in order to clutter Sayhood's radar with ground clutter and dropped flares, hoping to shake the radar lock on his aircraft. However after seeing his wingman killed, Sayhood bugged out briefly. Rodriguez and Underhill started heading south for a KC-135 tanker, when Sayhood began approaching them from the north. Rodriguez and Underhill turned around to face Sayhood. Underhill locked Sayhood up with an AIM-7, but didn't fire due to a glitch in his IFF interrogator system. For a brief time, Underhill thought he shot down a coalition aircraft and caused a fratricide. Sayhood sliced into their formation causing a "classic merge". Underhill climbed, while keeping Sayhood locked up, while Rodriguez stayed committed to the merge in order to visually identify the aircraft as hostile. As they passed each other head on, Rodriguez identified it as an Iraqi, each pilot turned left to engage each other. Sayhood was relying on the MiG's better turning radius to get onto Rodriguez's tail. They slowly spiraled towards the ground until Sayhood attempted to pull out using a split-s to try to shake off Rodriguez's AIM-9 lock. However Rodriguez didn't follow, and just before Sayhood managed to pull out, he crashed into the ground. He managed to eject from his MiG, however it is unknown if he survived.[2][3]

RAF GR.1 Tornado vs. IRAF MiG-29

It has been claimed by some sources that a Tornado (ZA467) crewed by Squadron Leader Gary Lennox and Squadron Leader Adrian Weeks was shot down on 19 January by a R-60MK (NATO reporting name: AA-8 Aphid) missile fired from an Iraqi MiG-29 piloted by Jameel Sayhood,[5] however this aircraft is officially recorded as having crashed on 22 January on a mission to Ar Rutbah.[6][7]

USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF Mirage F1s

Two F-15Cs destroyed two Mirage F1s with AIM-7 missiles.[2]

24 January 1991Edit

RSAF F-15C vs. IRAF Mirage F1sEdit

The Iraqi Air Force attempted to mount a rare offensive bombing operation and loaded two F1s with incendiary bombs. The Royal Saudi Air Force sent up two F-15Cs to get the bombers. One of the F-15s maneuvered behind the F1s and took them both down with AIM-9 missiles.[2]

26 January 1991Edit

USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-23sEdit

In what is considered a textbook "beyond visual range" or BVR kill, four MiG-23s took off from an Iraqi airbase. One of them turned back with mechanical problems, however the other three pressed on. Four F-15Cs were flying when AWACS reported the MiGs. The four F-15s lined up, were assigned targets and fired AIM-7 missiles at all of them, destroying all three MiGs within seconds of each other. Only three of the F-15C pilots were granted kills, as the fourth missile didn't reach the MiG until after it had already been brought down.[2][3]

27 January 1991Edit

USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF MiG-23s and Mirage F1Edit

Two F-15Cs managed to get kills on three MiG-23s and one Mirage F1, after they caught them trying to flee to Iran. They were brought down with AIM-9 and AIM-7 missiles after a brief dogfight.[2]

29 January 1991Edit

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF MiG-23Edit

An American F-15C shoots down a MiG-23 fleeing to Iran with an AIM-7 missile.[2]

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF MiG-23Edit

A USAF F-15C eliminates an Iraqi MiG-23 in a short-lived dogfight with an AIM-7 missile.[2]

2 February 1991Edit

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF IL-76Edit

A F-15C kills an Iraqi transport, an IL-76, that was parked by strafing it with 20mm bullets.[2]

6 February 1991Edit

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF MiG-21sEdit

A lone F-15C takes down two Iraqi MiG-21s with AIM-7 missiles after they both engage him. These MiGs were escorting the Su-25s mentioned below.[2]

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF Su-25sEdit

A F-15C spots two Iraqi Su-25s and gives chase, locking on, and shooting down both planes with AIM-9 missiles.[2]

USAF A-10A vs. IRAF Bo-105Edit

A USAF A-10 ground attack aircraft, shoots down an Iraqi Bo-105 chopper using its GAU-8 30mm cannon.[2]

7 February 1991Edit

USN F-14 vs. IRAF Mi-8Edit

A USN F-14 shoots down an IRAF Mi-8 helicopter with an AIM-9 missile. It is the last USN F-14 air-to-air kill.[2]

USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF Su-22s and Su-7Edit

Two USAF F-15Cs shoot down two IRAF Su-22s and one Su-7 as they attempt to flee Iraq. All with AIM-7 missiles.[2]

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF Mil-24Edit

A F-15C shoots down an IRAF Mil-24 with an AIM-7 missile.[2]

11 February 1991Edit

USAF F-15Cs vs. IRAF helicoptersEdit

Two F-15Cs shoot down two unidentified Iraqi helicopters by using AIM-7 missiles for both.[2]

14 February 1991Edit

USAF F-15E vs. IRAF Hughes 500Edit

An F-15E Strike Eagle fighter/bomber dropped a laser-guided bomb onto a helicopter in the air. The helicopter was on the ground initially loading up commandos, though it took off. Even with it taking off they left the laser on it and the bomb hit it when it was "200 or so" feet in the air. A special forces team on the ground witnessed the event.[2]

15 February 1991Edit

USAF A-10A vs. IRAF Mi-8Edit

An A-10A ground attack aircraft shoots down an Iraqi Mi-8 helicopter with its Gatling gun.[2]

Post Gulf WarEdit

20 March 1991Edit

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF Su-22

In accordance with the ceasefire, an F-15C shoots down an Iraqi Su-22 bomber with an AIM-9 missile.[8]

22 March 1991Edit

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF Su-22

In accordance with the ceasefire, an F-15C shoots down an Iraqi Su-22 bomber with an AIM-9 missile.

USAF F-15C vs. IRAF PC-9

In accordance with the ceasefire, an F-15C engages a Pilatus PC-9 aircraft and maneuvers it into the ground.[8]

27 December 1992Edit

USAF F-16 vs. IRAF MiG-25

A MiG-25 crossed the no-fly zone and an F-16D shot it down with an AIM-120 AMRAAM missile. It is the first kill with an AIM-120, and also the first USAF F-16 kill.[9]

17 January 1993Edit

USAF F-16 vs. IRAF MiG-23

A USAF F-16C shoots down a MiG-23 when the MiG locks the F-16 up.[10]

USAF F-16s vs. IRAF Su-22s

Two IRAF Su-22 "Fitters" open fire on two USAF F-16s in protest of the no-fly zones. No aircraft are damaged in the encounter.

5 January 1999Edit

USAF F-15Cs and USN F-14s vs. IRAF MiG-25s

A group of four Iraqi MiG-25s crossed the no-fly zones and sparked a dogfight with two patrolling F-15Cs and two patrolling F-14s. A total of six missiles were fired at the MiGs, none of which hit them. The MiGs then bugged out using their superior speed.

9 September 1999Edit

USN F-14 vs IRAF MiG-23

A lone MiG-23 crossed the no-fly zone heading towards a flight of F-14s. One F-14 fired an AIM-54 Phoenix at the MiG but missed and the MiG headed back north.

23 December 2002Edit

USAF RQ-1 Predator vs. IRAF MiG-25

In what was the last aerial victory for the Iraqi Air Force before Operation Iraqi Freedom, an Iraqi MiG-25 destroyed an American UAV RQ-1 Predator after the drone opened fire on the Iraqi aircraft with a Stinger missile.[11]


  1. ("The First Night" by Cooper/Sadik (IAPR, Vol.26))
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 "Coalition Air-Air Victories". 2004. Retrieved 11 September 2010. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Dogfights of Desert Storm History Channel accessed 11 September 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Iraqi air-air victories during the Gulf War 1991". 2004. Archived from the original on 16 November 2009. Retrieved 7 December 2009. 
  5. Iraqi Aces of Desert Storm
  6. "Tornado data."
  7. "ASN Aircraft accident 22-JAN-1991 Panavia Tornado GR1 ZA467." Flight Safety Foundation via
  8. 8.0 8.1
  11. Knights, Michael (2005). Cradle of conflict: Iraq and the birth of modern U.S. military power. Naval Institute Press, p. 242. ISBN 1-59114-444-2

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