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

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



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.


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

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

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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?!

  4. 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.

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