While speculation is never good and usually shown to be wrong I'd like to throw a few questions out there and see what we collectively know or think about the event
...but nearly two hours later a Syrian SU-22 dropped bombs on SDF fighters, according to Sunday’s news release.
“In accordance with rules of engagement and in collective self-defense of Coalition partnered forces, [the Syrian SU-22] was immediately shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet,” the news release said.
and from the Aviation Geek a little more flesh after a couple of days
According to Navy Capt. Jeff Davis,a Pentagon spokesman in fact, the two Super Hornets, which as we have explained were flying near the town of Ja’Din, just south of Tabqah, Syria to provide air cover to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) members, “saw the Su-22 approaching. It again had dirty wings; it was carrying ordinance. They did everything they could to try to warn it away. They did a head-butt maneuver, they launched flares, but ultimately the Su-22 went into a dive and it was observed dropping munitions and was subsequently shot down.”
“Dirty wings” is a military term used to describe a plane carrying armaments. In “a head-butt maneuver, the planes fly just in advance of another to create heavy wake and get its attention,” Davis explained.
As we have reported immediately after the Syrian Su-22 dropped its bombs, two American F/A-18E Super Hornets, flying from the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, engaged, firing an AIM-9 – a short-range air-to-air missile – at the Syrian plane from about half a mile away.
But as US officials told CNN the Syrian jet deployed defensive flares, causing the US missile to miss its target. The U.S. pilot shot a second missile, in the form of an AIM-120 which hit its intended target, downing the Syrian warplane and forcing its pilot to eject.
What we do know in addition to the above.
At least two F-18E Hornets from VFA-87 were involved
BU 168914 getting the kill
Modex thought to be 304
It's obvious that the F-18(s) were very close in terms of both distance and altitude from the Fitter and reacted immediately flowing ordnance release by the Syrian aircraft, with Aim-9 release at 0.6 mile.
What do we think would be the position of the Hornet relative to the Fitter - somewhere to the rear ?
It would seem the altitude of both aircraft would be similar, but what height would the SU-22 be likely dropping ordnance from ?
What is the colour schemes and marking on Syrian Fitters ?
What is a likely/plausible loadout for the Syrian aircraft ?
Would the Fitter have had a wingman ( I would assume so ?)
Lets try and keep wild fool guesses to a minimum but apply some logic and see if we can build a picture, even if it's subsequently proved incorrect.
And this quote from someone who has seen the HUD video
Pretty interesting video and situation.