These photos suggest Russian Air Force jets and drones are already operating against ISIS in Syria

Sep 02 2015 - 40 Comments

Photos allegedly taken over Idlib seem to prove Russian Migs, Sukhois and drones are currently operating against ISIS in Syria

Pictures allegedly shot over Idlib and posted on Twitter seem to suggest Sukhoi Su-27 (or derivative) Flanker, Mig-29 Fulcrum, Su-34 Fullback jets and Pchela-1T drone are operating in Syria.

Provided the pictures are genuine and taken in Syria in the last couple of days, they would really prove a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in the country and started flying from an Assad-controlled airbase near Damascus as reported by some Israeli media outlets.

During the past days, has exposed several flights of a Russian Air Force (even though the registration shown by FR24 is Syrian – there has been a bit of confusion around this plane since if was first logged in Sept. 2014) Il-76 airlifter (caught by means of its Mode-S transponder) flying to and from Damascus using radio callsign “Manny 6”, most probably supporting the deployment of a Russian expeditionary force.

Manny6 210815

Recent reports claimed Russia was in talks to sell Damascus some MiG-29s but the rumors were refuted by MiG CEO Sergei Korotkov.

If the pictures are real, the current makeup of the Russian detachment would include attack planes (Su-34), as well as some air-superiority ones (MiG-29 and Su-27) and UAVs (Pchela 1T – a drone with a of range 60 km).

Whether the Russian Air Force operations against ISIS in Syria are coordinated with the U.S.-led coalition that daily conducts air strikes in the country is unclear. Let’s hope they talk each other, otherwise one of the next days the Su-27s may make a close encounter with a stealthy US F-22 providing kinetic situational awareness to other coalition combat planes.

In the meanwhile the Kremlin denies the participation of Russia in the anti-ISIS airstrikes….

We will update you as soon as more details confirming or refuting the deployment emerge.

Image credit: and @green_lemonnn



  • Roland Lawrence

    Thats great then! But kinetic situational awareness? Seriously? We cant say combat anymore?

    • Jones

      You said it. Expect some bad dudes to come get you, anytime now. Now repeat after me: kinetic situational awareness. kinetic situational awareness.

    • Andrew Tubbiolo

      If we’re not working together the pilots would be briefed on what to do. The decision makers would have to weigh the pros of illuminating an F-22 with surface to air or air to air radar vs having what must be a robust onboard ELINT capability on the F-22, record your emissions. That’s really telling the Russians are using the Fullback when a Su-22 or 24 would more than suffice. There’s some really interesting day to day events going on here.

      • Roland Lawrence

        I would guess that by the amount of times that Israel jets had been in the country without an invite, the Russians don’t want to be caught with their pants down as it were. The Americans have also as you have pointed out, brought their “a game” in the shape of the F22s.

        The Russians don’t really have many Su34s in total. Here they will see if they are a good investment or fall short in which case they will either need to modify or scrap them.

    • sferrin

      In the days of “trigger warnings”? Somebody might wet their pants.

    • Felix

      Hey! I like how you “scripted a correlated intrication of alphabetic caracters”.

      t’s true today’s common will in communication depts to use overcomplicated and sensless terminology for everything as to look like you know what you’re doing while you’re basically just following a well established protocol is ridiculous.

  • Bad Day

    Quite interesting but mmmhhhh would you deploy even a single aircraft in a region where your main threat is some 50 VBIED in a single attack ? We’ll see

  • F22 awareness is way beyond anything in history, in depth & intensity

    • Knowles2

      and cost.

  • Great, we are all allies now! Obama loves Putin, loves ISIS (despite a few stray comments), loves all opposition to Assad, & now even supports Assad. Don’t bother proving who is there, we’re all brothers now! Bush no longer looks so bad, does he?!

    • Jones

      He never did.

    • Marco

      Is there any specific reason why there must be an enemy?

    • Jan Schmidt

      another proxy war – a free for all boondogle … there is nothing to whitewash war criminals

    • Guest

      LOL how come does Putin love ISIS, if he was during the last 10 years, in a way or another, aiding their main enemies (Syrian & Iraqi governments)?

  • Jan Schmidt

    russia cannot ignore the syrian failed state anymore. they have a naval base in syria (tartus) and syria is a customer for russian weapons. but the main reason is protection of the caucasian underbelly from islamist incursions… maybe a small live-fire bomb war is just what the russian air force requires to test new hardware and tactics.

    btw. the workhorses against ISIS are not the f-22. while usa and nato aircraft flew about 45000 sorties since august 2014, the f-22 did only 300 sorties. also they were employed as mini-AWACS and FAC.

    • Knowles2

      f22 is just to show they aren’t sitting on some air field rotting away.

  • Bez

    Is that it? The photos show nothing to indicate that they were taken in Syria. They could have been taken anywhere.

    • Vpanoptes

      Silly question (perhaps)? How would Su-27’s and Su-34’s even get to Syria without overflight rights from Greece/Bulgaria/Turkey? Mig-29’s could be (presumably) Syrian AF…

  • Marco

    Russians, as their fighting doctrine seems to go (under cover and deniable operations, “Maskirovka”), would rather field Su-24s and eventually MiG-29s as they are useful (what the hell are the Su-27s doing there?) and deniable (Syrian loyalists have them in the fleet).

    While if they were directly and wildly intervening, I guess they would field Su-24s, Su-25s and Su-34s and eventually a limited number of MiG-29 fighter-bombers. But that would need some public speech on TV.

  • B-Sabre

    There has also been footage of Russian-speaking ground troops in action near Latakia, shown on Syrian state TV.
    The armored vehicle is a BTR-82A or AM. The utility vehicle looks like an IVECO LMV, which Russia purchased a number of.

    • Harry

      Russians are definitely getting ready for a major campaign against ISIS on Syrian land. And they will hardly stop at that, but will then pursue the rascals in Iraq, Lybia and Afghanistan. The Siberian bear knows nothing about discriminate warfare. The utter destruction of ISIS can be the only end.

  • OG_Locc

    Good. The more bombs falling on these animals the better.

  • Elvis

    Outstanding. Hopefully with the arrival of the Russians who have decided to reinforce the Syrians, Hezbollah, & the Iranians the situation on the ground will change. I would rather have Assad & his Baathists survive and continue to rule a pro-Iranian but secular rump state in western Syria than see all of the country fall to ISIS, the Al Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra Front, or the so-called “moderates” of whom many are aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood. With Assad & his allies in western Syria, the Kurds in the north, and the Shia of Iraq in the east these Sunni Islamists may be contained.

    • disqus_STXkrV9NGc

      I see a false dichotomy here. There’s no choice between ISIL and Assad here. Neither should survive, neither will. I can’t stand seeing either one in power.

  • Jon

    This is a bad thing, how?

    We tried to train/arm these mythical anti-ISIS/anti-Assad freedom fighters. Got a grand total of 50 or so, who ran away at first opportunity.

    Let Russia stabilize Syria and fight ISIS. Assad is small potatoes in comparison. Not that long ago, he was our best bud and just a wonderful human being.

  • Chuikov075

    Nice! Hopefully something happens and we get to see the F22 vs a worthy opponent. Even if they end up shooting each other, I doubt it would lead to nuclear war, so its a Win-Win !

  • the armed forces of the russian federation probably could use some combat experience since you know they’re totally not involved in combat operations elsewhere in the world (ukraine cough cough).

    • Bez

      There is no proof of Russian armed forces in combat in Ukraine

    • Bez

      There is no proof of Russian forces in combat in Ukraine.

      • PADRAEG

        lol – only dead soldiers returned to Mother Russia!

  • Eldar

    You are saing such things as if one of the parties, that is “waging the war against ISIS” is not the one, that has created that organisation, helped with training and equpment and is trying now to guide them like some crazy roaches to only attack Assad forces and not spread to the surronding countries.

    You have Turkey only bombing mostly the Kurds. USAF mostly bombing he Assad forces and ISIS that go stray from their primary objective. Then you have Fronds of Syrian People who deal with the terrorists buying oil and selling guns.

    From far enough this looks like a child with a stick, trying to force one colony of ants to attack another colony.

    And the USA is the cruel child.

  • rats123

    Versus supporting Saudi Arabia where immigrants are treated as slaves, raped and executed at will, and women have no rights?

    I’ll take Assad thanks.

  • Bez

    Because supporting Islamic extremist groups using chemical weapons on women and children in Syria, is better, how?

    • veritas

      That was debunked by a Christian nun on the ground in that town at that time. It happened but she gave very good testimony as to why it was not Assad .

  • I doubt they’re coordinating with US forces, but it certainly shows ISIS is sufficiently scary to get Russia involved.

    • Harry

      20% of the Russian population is Moslem and some of the young Moslem citizens of Russia have already been recruited by ISIS. That’s why Russia is involved. And I believe they are getting ready for a major land campaign against ISIS, which the US just cannot afford.

      • Dave

        I say let them do it. Europe and the US hasnt shown the interest in doing it.

  • Carlos Fuentes

    Tell israel to stop giving ISIS air support and tow missile, ISIS is israel right arm mercenaries pay by saudi arabia and trained by israel

    • veritas

      so that they could invade Israel…..that doesn’t make any sense …..think about it for a second. ISIS is a direct threat to ISRAEL , hello ?