Category Archives: Syria

Russia to deploy Ka-52 attack helicopters to Syria to protect Latakia air base

The “Hokum-B” combat helicopters will be used to protect the Russian contingent at Hmeymim airbase.

Russian Kamov Ka-52 (NATO reporting name “Hokum-B”) helicopters would be about to deploy to Syria according to a source who talked to ITAR-TASS.

The attack choppers will be used to protect the Russian Task Force deployed to Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, as well as to conduct CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) missions as the one launched to rescue the two pilots who ejected from the Su-24 Fencer shot down by a Turkish Air Force F-16 in November 2015 (during which, a Mi-8AMTSh Hip helicopter was hit by ground fire and later destroyed).

Interestingly, the first Ka-52 deployment will also be an opportunity for the Russians to test new technologies as the KRET Vitebsk EW (Electronic Warfare System).

According to the manufacturer, the Vitebsk can protect the helicopter from anti-aircraft threats in a range of several hundred kilometers, determining who is aiming at the aircraft and, once a missile is fired by a MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense System), forcing it away from the designated target.

“Interestingly, when this system is onboard, it can protect not only the helicopter or plane, but everything within a certain radius, forming an “electronic canopy” around the object being protected.”

Actually, this is not the first time the Ka-52s are reported to be about to deploy or already deployed to Syria: at the end of November, Sputnik News published a video showing Hokum-B helicopters allegedly operating in Syria. Looks like the segment showing the combat helicopter was old footage filmed somewhere else.

Image credit: ITAR-TASS

 

These photos of everyday life at Hmeymim say a lot about the Russian Air Force operations in Syria

These photos provide lots of details about the operations of the Russian Air Force contingent in Syria.

The Russian MoD has recently made available some really cool photographs showing ordinary day life at Hmeymim airfield, near Latakia, the headquarters of the Russian Air Force contingent in Syria.

By taking a look at the images we can gather interesting details about the jets and helicopters deployed to the airbase in northwestern Syria: payload, mission markings, insignia (or lack of thereof) etc.

The Mi-8AMTSH reportedly carry the “Rychag-AV” active jamming station.

Hip

The 16 Su-30SM Flanker-H multirole aircraft carry both R-27R/ER semi-active radar-guided air-to-air missiles (AAMs) and R-73 short-range AAMs as well as OFAB-250-270 HE unguided bombs.

Su-30SM taxi

Su-30SM crew

The Su-25SM, that started to fly with four B8M1 (S-8) rocket pods are now carrying also a B13L rocket pods to use with S-13 rockets from 5-tube launchers. The OFAB-250 iron bombs are also often carried by the Frogfoot attack planes (the 250 kg bombs are certainly Russia’s most used weapon by tactical planes in Syria) as the images prove. Interestingly, it seems that at least one of the 12 Su-25s (and a Su-34, not visible in the images in this post) deployed to Latakia still lacks the typical Red Star insignia.

Su-25 rockets

Su-25 dusk

Su-25 FABs

The 12 Su-34 Fullbacks carry KAB-500 TV guided bombs and FAB-500 dumb bombs and have been spotted carrying KAB-1500s as well as 4 ODAB-500PMV thermobaric bombs and electro-optical guided KAB-500KRs too. After carrying AAMs for self-protection in the aftermath of the Su-24 shootdown by a Turkish F-16, the Su-34s don’t seem to carry air-to-air missiles lately: the super-MEZ (missile engagement zone) Russia has created over Syria with the Moskva and the S-400 deployed to Latakia has made the Russian planes safe enough to fly without air-to-air missiles…

Su-34 OFAB

On the other side, they have started sporting red star silhouettes (most probably) to mark 10 air strikes: with 12 mission marks, the Su-34 “25 Red” has performed 120 raids (or more).

Su-34 kill markings

Su-34 aircrew

The about 30 Su-24s (it’s not clear whether the lost one was replaced or not), carry OFAB-250-270 HE fragmentation bombs.

Su-24 takeoff

Here below, an unarmed Su-24 (possibly returning from a raid):

Su-24 unarmed

OFABs

Image credit: Russian MoD

Watch a French Rafale use Scalp air-launched cruise missiles against ISIS targets for the first time

The French Air Force has used the Scalp missile against Daesh for the very first time.

On Dec. 15, the French Air Force conducted a raid against ISIS targets using the Scalp-EG cruise missile for the first time since the beginning of Operation Chammal.

According to a statement from the French Ministry of Defense  the ai strike involved ten aircraft from their deployment airfields in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

The raid targeted Daesh headquarters, training center and a logistics deposit, including some hardened buildings, in the region of al-Qaim, near the border separating Iraq from Syria.

Scalp EG (Système de Croisière Autonome à Longue Portée – Emploi Général, General Purpose Long Range Standoff Cruise Missile) is the French designation for the MBDA Storm Shadow, a conventional, stealthy, 1.300 kg standoff weapon (over 5-mt long), designed for use against very high value targets in all-weather conditions from a safe distance of about 250 km.

After release, the 900K Euro-a-piece air-launched cruise missile’s wings deploy and the weapon navigates its way to the target at low-level using terrain profile matching and an integrated Global Positioning System.

Hitting the target, the 450 kg BROACH warhead uses an initial penetrating charge to enter a fortified bunker, then a variable delay fuze controls detonation of the main warhead.

At least 15 Scalp missiles were fired by the French combat planes in Libya in 2011.

The missile is already in service with the RAF and Italian Tornados, that have also extensively used it in combat during Libya Air War.

H/T François Bouder for the heads-up

 

Russian Mi-35M gunship helicopter appears in Syria for the first time

The most advanced variant of the Hind helicopter has arrived at Latakia airbase.

New footage filmed by RT at Russian aircraft operating at Hmeymim air base in Latakia, on Friday, proves Moscow has eventually deployed to Syria the most modern variant of the Hind: the Mi-35M.

See below after 00:11.

A combat transport helicopter with anti-tank and assault capabilities, the Mi-35M is a variant of the older Mi-24 gunship featuring a modified airframe with fixed landing gear and cropped wings as well as the X-shaped tail rotor of the Mi-28N.

According to the recently-issued “Russia’s Warplanes, Volume 1” by Piotr Butowski published by Harpia Publishing, one of the most authoritative sources on Russian-made military aircraft and helicopters today and set to become the standard reference work on the subject, the Russian Air Force operates 49 Mi-35M examples, along with around 150 older Mi-24s, with the following peculiarities.

Whilst it carries the same self-protections as the Mi-24P, the Mi-35 is equipped with advanced avionics, including an Integrated KNEI-24 suite with MVK computer and MFDs (two for pilot and one for WSO). The cockpit is NVG-compatible, with crews provided with Geo-ONV-1 or OVN-1 Skosok NVGs, and includes satellite navigation receivers, KSS-28N-3 comms suite with two UHF and one HF radio, and secure datalink.

The Mi-35M can carry up to 16 missiles (instead of 8), including four new 9M39 Igla-V instead of Strelas. New weapons include the heavy 122mm S-13 unguided rockets. Still, what makes the chopper extremely deadly is GSh-23V cannon with 450 rounds in a undernose turret that can be moved +/-60° in azimuth and +10/-40° in elevation.

The sighting of the Mi-35Ms marks the arrival of another modern weapons system within the ranks of the contingent Russia has unleashed against terrorists in Syria along with Su-30SMs, Su-34s, Kalibr, S-400 and Kilo-class sub (to name but few).

By the way, for more details on Mi-35s as well as other Russian warplanes, here’s the link for “Russia’s Warplanes, Volume 1”

Stunning Photos Show the F-22 Raptor training with the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale in the U.S.

NATO’s three most advanced combat planes flying together during exercise.

The photographs in this post were taken recently in the skies near Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

They show a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, a Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon and a French Air Force Dassault Rafale, flying together during the inaugural Trilateral anti-access/area denial exercise scheduled for Dec. 2 – 18.

Hosted by the 1st FW (Fighter Wing), the East Coast drills focus on integrated operations with the aim to gain an understanding of the required tactics, techniques, procedures as well as logistics and support associated with fighting in a highly-contested scenario made of layered long-range air defenses.

To make things even more realistic, the exercise does not only feature the NATO’s premiere combat aircraft but also a wide variety of supporting assets: along with the “Bad Guys” (U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and the Langley-based T-38 Talons that always train against the Raptor stealth fighter) there are U.S. E-3 AWACS as well as U.S. and French Air Force tankers.

According to U.S. Air Force Col. Pete Fesler, the commander of the 1st FW: “The RAF and FrAF are our vital strategic partners and allies in the current fight against extremism, and will be in any foreseeable future conflict,” said Fesler. “The trilateral exercise gives us an opportunity to train together in realistic counter-air and strike scenarios. This training is critical to ensure that we have day-one interoperability for future contingency operations.”

Interestingly, whilst the USAF Raptor, the British Typhoon and the French Rafale multi-role combat planes train in the U.S. to gain air superiority in a modern A2/AD (anti-access/area denial environment), the same three kinds of aircraft are currently involved in a real war against ISIS in Syria and they daily operate well inside a Russian super-MEZ (Missile Engagement Zone) created with the deployment of the Moskva guided-missile cruiser (with its S-300F) off Latakia and the installation an S-400 Triumf battery at Hmeymim airbase: perhaps an interesting real-world scenario to test at least a few of those procedures studied in the permissive skies over Virginia.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force