Drone Aces in the Air Force

| April 29, 2024

Nice shooting, Stud.

So does the Air Force have new aces now?

The math involved in recent shootdowns of Iranian drones suggests yes.

The U.S. Air Force defines an “ace” as any pilot that has more than five combat kills. It’s been decades since American pilots reached that status, but that might have changed this month.

On April 13, Iran and its partners in Syria and Yemen fired more than 300 munitions — more than 150 drones as well as dozens of ballistic missiles and several cruise missiles — toward Israel. Elements of the British, French, Jordanian and American militaries helped Israel intercept 99% of those munitions. Among that, F-15E fighter jets from the U.S. Air Force’s 494th Fighter Squadron and 335th Fighter Squadron shot down more than 80 Iranian drones before they could reach their target.

There’s a fair chance at least one pilot from the two squadrons now fits the criteria for an ace. The two squadrons, as well as U.S. Air Forces Central, have not released details on how many F-15Es from the two squadrons participated in the mission, what weapons were used or how many drones were shot down per plane, but the math at play suggests there are some new aces.

Task and Purpose

Drone Ace? Not something I’d lead with at the O-Club onboard NAS Fallon. I’d love to spectate it, though. Talk about losing that lovin’ feeling..

Category: Air Force, Points-and-Laughs

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Not quite the same. Pushing a button to knock down a unmanned drone from 20 miles away.


Until drones have AI and fight back on their own, nope.

Anna Puma

Compared to British and American pilots having to dive and chase down the faster V-1 buzz bombs for interception, nope an Iranian drone does not count.


FUN stuff
Pilot Brett Kriger accidently took out a Winnebago in the training area at 200 AGL, Mach 1.2 .

Hack Stone

Is that the incident where the silhouette of a camper was painted on his aircraft?


Just above the KOA sticker.


Still my favorite

RGR 4-78

Holey Cow!


Udderly horrific!


He bagged a Winnebago.


One of my TROPO teams took out two, count ’em, two USMC drones in 2003. My guys warned them, don’t take off through our transmission path. 2K watts x 2 parabolic antennas = snap roll and nosedive on takeoff. Yes, they painted kills on the shelter.


Now -that- is a “zorch”.


11th SIG BDE used to have a training area on Davis-Monthan AFB, I say “used to” because the transmission path from DM to Huachuca shoots directly into a subdivision on E Valencia Road. Apparently, the residents didn’t care for us inadvertently jamming the bejeezus out of their Dish TV systems. No damage done, just no tv.


No brain damage other than tv in general?


Possibly some baldness, nearsightedness, 3-eyed kids…


NAS Fallon brings back fond memories. The bus rides in the morning and evening out to and back from the range.


Warfare changes, but drone “Aces” should never be afforded the same level of respect that previous Aces have been afforded. Maybe change the criteria? I don’t know.


How would you say more modern fighter Aces (not counting drone Aces) compare, respect-wise, to men like von Richthofen?


Not as badass. Many German aces of the next war had 100+ kills, too.


Erich “Bubi” Hartmann, Luftwaffe WW2.

352 confirmed air-to-air kills.


I’d say that men like Robin Olds and other WWII and later-era Aces have as much respect, albeit in a different regard. As usual, I convolute things in my head.

WWI Aces (and pilots in general) were an incredibly brave breed. The airplane as they knew it had only been around for 15 years by the end of the war, was constructed of mostly fabric and wood, and any mechanical flaw, lapse in judgement, or simple bad luck was a virtual death sentence. Look at how few Aces survived that war. Even so, technology evolved rapidly, and the early war pistol and rifle fire exchanges turned into relatively well-armed synchronized machine guns. WWI dogfighting was an all-in affair, and those who made Ace status and survived were both skilled and lucky.

WWII and (especially) later pilots saw increasingly longer-range fighting, and the disparity in the quality of air forces led to some very high numbers (think of German Aces on the Eastern Front). In the missile-era, it still takes a lot of skill and good fortune to make Ace status, but I’m sure that few Vietnam-era Aces (I think that’s the last time Ace status was earned) would be willing to trade their F4 Phantom in for a Sopwith Camel to face off against von Richthofen.

Green Thumb



And lets give those drone pilots a medal higher than the BSM.


A clear glass ribbon with a solar panel badge.


But the drone operator must always display the drone medal in a location not his own.


A Purple Heart with an “R” device?


Army Service Ribbon with IWT device.

“I Wasn’t There”


Distinguished Flying Cross with Atari Joystick Device.


The ‘ Red Bull Baron ‘ just doesn’t have the same ring to it

AW1 Rod

Wow! Drone slayers! A legacy worthy of Robin Olds!



These guys couldn’t carry Robin Olds’ mustache.

Just An Old Dog

Not this story but serial asswipe Jarret Gimble has a new Blog claiming he was combat wounded. https://jarrettottogimbl.com/blog/

Hack Stone

Who knew that the dumpster behind White Castle was a combat zone?


It would appear that there’s a new Naval aviation documentary on Prime video: Yes, I checked the DA6.


This… just 5 min, better:


It appears that you flew right into the danger zone. Now, your goose is cooked and you’re gonna get put on ice, man. Seems like someone has lost that lovin’ feelin’. 🤣


We named an Air Force Base after a baloon ace and Medal of Honor recipient… Frank Luke.


At least the balloons had gunners aboard to return fire. As mentioned above, once drones can do that, I’m on board.. until then, it’s just a high speed version of skeet..


A worthy accompaniment to the Air and Space Training Ribbon.


The pinger ribbon?



Wow, haven’t heard THAT in a while! (Almost 30 years…got-damn I’m old)


36 for me… sweet baby Jesus. Had a month of training at Keesler after AIT in ’88.

Hack Stone

Would it have precedence over the highly coveted and rarely awarded Precious Metals Recovery Expert Badge?


Maybe Martin the Martian can be put on their squadron patch.



Just NO.

Ridiculous to even discuss ace status for shooting down drones, regardless of how many get bagged.


In WWI, a pilot was only considered an ace (by both sides) for shooting down a piloted aircraft. Observation ballons whose altitude was controlled by the ground didn’t count. UAV’s should be treated similarly.