Satellite image shows four Russian Su-30SM parked in the open air at airfield in Syria

Four Russian Flanker derivative have arrived at Latakia airport.

Satellite images prove Russian combat planes have eventually deployed to Syria.

The deployment, anticipated by an air bridge from Russia that involved several An-124 Condor airlifter flights (that we were able to track thanks to their Mode-S transponders) saw the aircraft arrive at al-Assad International Airport, near Latakia, the main Syrian port city, on Sept. 18.

As the satellite imagery shows, the aircraft were parked next to the threshold of runway 17L, on the northern side of the airport: this is quite interesting as the airbase has no hardened shelters and the aircraft are in the open air, exposing them to satellites and spyplanes, and making them a possible target to attacks from outside the airfield.

The arrival of the Russian Air Force Navy Su-30s and the official confirmation by the Pentagon, brought speculations that Russians may already be operating in Syria to an end: according to the U.S. defense officials, so far, four Su-30s, two Mi-24 gunship helicopters and two Mi-17 Hip utility choppers have deployed to Latakia.

The Su-30SM is a multirole derivative of the Su-27 Flanker. It’s a special variant of the thrust-vectoring Su-30MKI and MKM produced by the Irkut Corporation for the Russian Air Force (that is slated to operate 60 jets of this type by 2016).

It’s a 4+ Generation twin-engine, two seat supermaneuverable multi-role aircraft equipped with improved avionics, the Bars-R radar and a wide-angle HUD (Head Up Display).

Image credit: Wiki (Top), AllSource Analysis @AllSourceA


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. Now it’s going to be serious.. russia will be more effective than usa and its allies that are there just for training and shooting virtual targets.

    • Depends on what the objective is. The US led objective is to flatten the whole country. Its imperative to stop Iran selling oil and gas products to Europe. However the Russians have an interest in stopping Qatar getting a pipeline through Syria to supply Europe too.

      The US Axis powers have a far greater budget for weapons then Russia. Do not under estimate the power that $1.5 trillion budget brings you to the battlefield. The NSA / CIA budgets alone are far bigger then Russia’s defence budget.

      There is more political subterfuge going on here then meets the eye.

  2. Interesting to note how detailed imagery is available for Russian assets and maneuvers but convoys of ISIL Humvees and Toyota pickups traveling through open desert somehow go unnoticed. #gofigure

    • Even more amazed that not one single US satellite picked up the shooting down of a passenger plane in Ukraine either. There was no interest in the Russian military buildup on the border there.

      Obviously the same here. As the author points out the planes there are ripe for blowing up by outside forces. Could be western backed, ISIS or Israeli forces as was not specified.

      • Are you serious? Such an imagery satellite would have to have been passing at the same time as MH17 was shot down. What are the odds on that. Think about it? Yes a US SBIRS (Space Based Infra Red Satellite) detected an infra red event of the Buk missile plume as revealed and disclosed at the time. SBIRS is NOT a photo imagery satellite

        • He can be quite serious.

          MH17 might have been going too fast for a satellite to track and photograph but a BUK launcher sure wouldn’t have the same turn of speed…

  3. This will be great. We will get to observe them in action. And since when does the US have the exclusive right to interfere in other countries business?

  4. If the Russians can put a substantial force, Brigade level with support into Syria, there’ll be no way the Western powers will be able to effect a change in the conflict. It’s a political master stroke that leaves NATO and the Arab coalitions looking weak and ineffectual.

    • No, we won’t care, better the Russians getting shot at and scapegoated than us. Going to Syria is like taking out the trash. It’s a dirty rough job nobody wants, so if the Russians want to blow bullets, beans, and gas on flogging Syrian soil, that’s their problem.

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