On Jul. 24, the L-39 Albatros, mistakenly identified by several media outlets as “Migs”, made their first appearance in the Syrian skies.
Since then, many videos uploaded to Youtube have shown Syrian Arab Air Force L-39 combat trainers equipped with an under fuselage gun pod and external stores flying over Aleppo during strafing attacks against Free Syrian Army positions.
The following one, brought to my attention by Brown Moses, is the best I’ve see so far.
It clearly shows a Syrian Albatros with a gun pod and rocket launchers flying over Aleppo. Noteworthy, the aircraft flies at low altitude: a sign that the regime planes are not threatened by MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems)?
As highlighted in a previous post, there have been no reports of Strela or Igla being used against the Syrian choppers (or planes), most probably because regime forces have seized all the MANPADS from active units to prevent them to end in the rebels hands in case of attack or defection.
The air-to-ground capability on the Syrian L-39 was theoretical until the first footage showed the Albatros carrying the gun pod and stores on at least two of the four underwing hardpoints. Until then, the aircraft was limited to a training role and there were few or no images of armed L-39s in service with the SyAAF.
Maybe the regime has opted for this type of aircraft because it’s more suitable for light attack and close air support in a urban scenario, where slower speeds are required.
- L-39 Albatros jet trainer spotted over Aleppo, Syria. (theaviationist.com)
- Video: Syrian Arab Air Force Mil Mi-25 high altitude bomb attack on Daal, Syria. (theaviationist.com)
- [Updated] Syrian Air Force Mig-21 fighter jet defects to Jordan (theaviationist.com)
- Turkish Phantom shot down in Syria update: it may have violated the Syrian airspace to probe the air defenses readiness (theaviationist.com)