Syrian Arab Air Force trainer jets turned into attack planes to strike rebel positions

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.

About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.