Russia has just deployed its most advanced spyplane to Syria

A Russian Air Force Tu-214R is about to land at Latakia, Syria.

The Tu-214R is a Russian ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft. In other words, a quite advanced spyplane.

As we have already explained here in the past, it is a special mission aircraft equipped with all-weather radar systems and electro optical sensors that produce photo-like imagery of a large parts of the ground: these images are then used to identify and map the position of the enemy forces, even if these are camouflaged or hidden.

The aircraft is known to carry sensor packages to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) and SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) missions: the antennae of the Tu-214R can intercept the signals emitted by the enemy systems (radars, aircraft, radios, combat vehicles, mobile phones etc) so as it can build the EOB (Electronic Order of Battle) of the enemy forces: where the enemy forces are operating, what kind of equipment they are using and, by eavesdropping into their radio/phone communications, what they are doing and what will be their next move.

The aircraft is built by KAPO (Kazan Aircraft Production Association) and flown from the company’s airfield in Kazan.

On Feb. 15, the Tu-214R registered RA-64514, serial number 42305014, the second of the two examples of this kind of aircraft built under contract with Russia’s Ministry of Defense, flew from Kazan to Latakia airbase, Syria.


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With its ADS-B transponder signals broadcast in the clear and detected by Flightradar24 collecting stations, the aircraft could be tracked as it followed the eastern corridor from Russia, to the Caspian Sea and then to Syria via the Iranian and Iraqi airspaces. It’s not clear whether the aircraft has already been delivered to the Russian Air Force, even though it is quite weird that a developmental aircraft is deployed abroad (unless the reason is testing it at war in a real scenario…).

While it was still under development, the same Tu-214R aircraft flew what appeared to be an operative mission on Jun. 18, 2015, when it flew from Kazan to Crimea and back, closely following the border between Russia and Ukraine, most probably testing some of its sensors against real targets.

Previously, the aircraft was spotted flying near Crimea.Interestingly, while over the Caspian Sea, approaching the Iranian airspace, the Tu-214R performed a couple of 360° turns at 33.000 feet (weird, while enroute): maybe it was working on the diplomatic clearence to enter Iran?


Image credit: Rimma Sadykova/Wiki


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. Russia is reacting to the growth of terrorism in the middle east. Guess who sponsored the terrorism in the ME? Erdogan, Obama and SA.

  2. Russia probably sent it because they’re afraid Saudi Arabia and Turkey are wanting to get a lot more active in Syria to topple Assad.

  3. The second Tu214R was delivered to the RASF in late 2015. It’s SAR
    permits to closely follow ground target moves hundreds of kms away, and
    providing targeting data, while it’s flight path hints that the brit’s
    war “games” in Jordan, where the KSA is also deploying ground forces,
    were a POI (probably preparing a ground invasion of Syria). Turkey’s ground operations near the border would be also closely monitored.
    The yank’s biggest ME vassals, and some nato puppets (including miss Piggy) are lately very vocally supporting a ground invasion, while the SAA, and allies are preparing the conquest of Azaz, and other strategic points near the turkish border in north Aleppo.
    SAA’s newest “sports” discipline: hunting jihadis with ATGMs:

    Interesting documentary on chechen SF training, undercover isis infiltration, Kadyrov interview:

  4. In layman’s terms it’s called an AWACS, and it matches similar aircraft deployed by the USAF, NATO and the Saudis. It could provide Russians with the evidence to back up their claims that other aircraft, besides theirs are operating over western Syria. And it can keep an eye on the Turkish side of the Syrian order.

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