Operating from Engels and Modzok airbases in southwestern Russia, the aircraft had to cover a distance close to 3,000 km. According to some sources, the aircraft were thus supported by several Il-78M aerial refuelers on their way to the targets and back: actually, it’s not clear whether the Backfire could be refueled since the retractable probe in the upper part of the nose was reportedly removed as a result of the SALT negotiations, but it can be reinstated if needed.
Under the newly signed agreement with Iran, Russian bombers will be able to cut their flight time by 60%, saving money and increasing the ops tempo: the current distance to Syria is roughly 900 km, meaning that more bombs can be loaded in the round-trip mission from Iran.
Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, that has been the headquarters of the Russian aircraft since October last year was unable to accommodate the large (34m wingspan) Russian supersonic, variable-sweep wing, long-range strategic bombers.
The footage (click here) shows the submarine or a warship (the image above seems to be taken from a certain height from above the sea level…) somehow aiming or at least pointing its sensors at the American warship. According to the reports from the Iranian media, a drone took part in the surveillance operation as well, taking pictures of the American flattop from above.
In another video, you can see an IRGC drone flying close to the carrier (click here).
It’s not clear if and when the “close encounter” really happened nor the name of the “targeted” U.S. vessel; currently the USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier is operating in the Persian Gulf supporting Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
The incident occurred just a few days after ten U.S. sailors were abducted by Iran, following a technical malfunction that caused them to enter Iranian national waters near an island in the Gulf.
On Dec. 26, 2015 an Iranian vessel approached aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman while transiting the Strait of Hormuz and fired rockets in a direction away from the American flattop.
This is not the first time Iranian surveillance planes or even subs operate in the vicinity of an American aircraft carrier transiting across Hormuz. However, especially when sailing in troubled waters, all the aircraft carrier’s defenses (including surface to air missiles) are on heightened alert status and almost no suspect (manned or unmanned) aircraft approaching the ship goes unnoticed.
On the other side submarines can be a significant threat to the U.S. CSGs (Carrier Strike Groups).
During exercises and real ops, submarines regularly slip in the heart of the multi-billion-dollar aircraft carrier’s defensive screen to pretend-sinking U.S. supercarriers, whose underwater defenses are far from being impenetrable.
This video shows that an Iranian ship actually fired rockets near USS Harry S. Truman.
As reported by several media outlets on Dec. 26, 2015 an Iranian vessel approached aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) while transiting the Strait of Hormuz and fired rockets in a direction away from the American flattop.
According to some U.S. Central Command officials, 20 minutes before the incident occurred, the Iranians announced over maritime radio that they would carry out a live-fire exercise.
But, as reported by Marinecorpstimes.com, a video of the incident released on Jan. 9, 2016 by U.S. Navy officials to Military Times in response to a Freedom of Information Act request proves that Gen. Sharif statement was wrong.
A claim confirmed by Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, who affirmed that even though the rockets traveled away from the carrier, firing weapons “so close to passing coalition ships and commercial traffic within an internationally recognized maritime traffic lane is unsafe, unprofessional and inconsistent with international maritime law.”
On the same day, Su-34 Fullbacks launched 16 sorties against ground targets in Syria taking off from Krimsk airbase, in Russia.
Interestingly, during their transit across Middle East, the Russian strategic bombers were escorted by Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force F-14 Tomcat, Mig-29 Fulcrum andF-4 Phantom jets whose prior mission to visually observe activity of Russian bombers inside the Iranian airspace, from their entry point to the exit point.
Military aviation historian and journalist Babak Taghvaee has prepared an interesting infographic that provides lots of details about the Russian strategic bombers missions to Syria as well as about the Iranian chase planes.
Click below for a higher resolution version of the file.
Persian Tomcat and Russian Bear fly together during a strike mission against ground targets in Syria.
Something really interesting details have been exposed by the material released by Russia’s MoD lately.
Indeed, as you can see in the video below, IRIAF (Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force) F-14 Tomcat interceptors escorted Russian Air Force Tu-95 Bear bombers flying in Iranian airspace during their 9h 30mins missions (from Engels airbase and back, along the Iraq-Iran-Caspian Sea 6,500 km-long corridor) against terrorist targets in Syria.