Category Archives: Syria

Russian Tu-22 bombers deploy to Iran and launch first air strikes on ISIS in Syria

Russian Air Force Tu-22M3 strategic bombers forward deployed to Iran have launched their first air strike on Daesh in Syria: old-fashioned carpet bombing.

Russian Air Force Tu-22M3 strategic bombers have been involved in the air strikes in Syria since Moscow has started pounding Islamic State militants last year.

The aircraft have carried out carpet bombings dropping OFAB-250-270 and FAB-500M-62 iron bombs on their targets.

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.

On Aug. 15, the first images of a contingent of 6 Tu-22M3 bombers forward deployed to Hamedan Air Base in western Iran, along with supporting Il-76 airlifters, emerged.

On Aug. 16, the Russian MoD confirmed that the Backfire aircraft deployed to Iran performed an air strike around the besieged city of Deir-ez-Zor in eastern Syria.

Based on the footage that was released after the first mission, the Tu-22s were escorted by some Su-30SM Flankers derivatives (launched from Latakia airbase), as happened during the previous airstrikes of the RuAF Tu-22s, Tu-160s and Tu-95s.

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.

Image credit: Dmitriy Pichugin/Wiki

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This video lets you join F-22 pilots preparing for a night air strike on ISIS

Up close and personal with the Raptor pilots fighting Daesh in Iraq and Syria.

Filmed at Al Dhafra airbase in the UAE, this clip shows F-22 pilots with the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, preparing to launch at night for a mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS in the modernized U.S. Air Force Raptor multirole jets.

Each Raptor mission against Daesh usually involves multiple aerial refueling operations since the aircraft, to keep their stealthiness, do not carry external fuel tanks.

The Alaskan Raptors belong to the latest available Block and can drop 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs; they also embed a radar upgrade that enhanced the capabilities of the aircraft in the realm of the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: although they drop very few bombs against ground targets, the 5th generation stealth planes exploit their advanced onboard sensors, such as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather details about the enemy targets that they share with other attack planes, such as the F-15E Strike Eagles.

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Jaw-dropping NVG video of F-22 Raptors refueling at night during air strikes on Daesh

Here’s how the F-22s that take part in the air war on ISIS look at night through the Night Vision Goggles.

The clip in this post shows airmen assigned to the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron prepare their aircraft and refuel U.S. F-22 Raptors using a KC-10 Extender tanker during an aerial refueling mission in support of Operation Inherent Resolve on Jul. 13, 2016.

The above image was posted by the  helicopter serving the South West of England.

Although we have recently posted an image taken from the thermal camera used by the EC-135 of the British National Police Air Service, based at Filton Aerodrome, of one of the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor jets that deployed to RAF Fairford to take part in the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow, you don’t happen to see this kind of footage too often.

You can even spot the vapors of the fuel coming out of the dorsal refueling receptacle used by the Raptor multirole jet after the AAR (Air to Air Refueling) operation.

The F-22 refueled in the video are the most up-to-date Raptors in service with the U.S. Air Force. Assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, the modernized Raptors brought extended capabilities in the fight against Daesh since their arrival in theater back in April: the Alaskan Raptors can now drop 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs while previously they were limited to carry two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs (Joint Direct Attack Munitions) in the internal weapon bay.

Furthermore, among the other things, the aircraft were also given a radar upgrade that enhanced the capabilities of the aircraft in the realm of the so-called “kinetic situational awareness”: whilst they are rarely requested to attack ground targets, the Raptors use advanced onboard sensors, such as the AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar, to gather valuable details about the enemy targets, then share the “picture” with attack planes as the F-15E Strike Eagles.

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Russia’s most advanced spyplane has deployed to Syria again

After the first tour of duty in February 2016  the Tu-214R has returned to Latakia. To spy on Daesh (and also on the U.S. F-22s?)

The Tu-214R is the most modern Russian ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft.

Equipped with sensors to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) and SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) missions as well as with all-weather radar systems and electro-optical sensors that produce photo-like imagery of a large parts of the ground the special mission aircraft, the aircraft can fly multiple intelligence gathering missions: it can intercept and analyse signals emitted by targeted systems (radars, aircraft, radios, combat vehicles, mobile phones etc) while collecting imagery that can be used to identify and pinpoint the enemy forces, even if these are camouflaged or hidden.

Built by KAPO (Kazan Aircraft Production Association) and flown from the company’s airfield in Kazan, 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 (the other being serialled RA-64511), deployed to Latakia airbase in Syria, between Feb. 15 and 29, 2016.

Interestingly, RA-64514 has not finished with Syria yet: on Jul. 29, the aircraft flew from Moscow to Syria, where it landed at 3.23AM LT, as the Flightradar24.com ADS-B tracking show.

Tu-214R

Tu-214R route. Screenshot from Flightradar24.com

The aircraft, that features the same types of external bulges of other very well-known intelligence gathering planes, as the U.S. RC-135 or the Israeli B-707 with the Phalcon system, along with minor differences with the first operative Tu-214R, RA-64511, serial number 42305011, will probably spy on Daesh while testing some of its onboard sensor packages: the aircraft is believed to be still under development and the Syrian battlefield has already been used as a real testbed for new weapons systems by the Russian Aerospace Forces since Moscow started the air war in Syria back in October 2015.

Actually, there is someone who believes the Tu-214R spyplane and other systems deployed by the Russians to Syria might be used to collect data that might be used to “characterize” the F-22’s signature at specific wavelengths.

According to an article published by Sputnik News, Maj. Jahara ‘Franky’ Matisek of the US Air Force, for instance, Pantsir-S1 (SA-22 Greyhound) and S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) anti-aircraft systems were deployed to Syria specifically to spy on the F-22, whose role imply a certain interconnection with other assets.

According to Matisek, these anti-aircraft systems could be “sniffing” the emissions of the F-22s and other NATO aircraft could be used to “[improve] tracking algorithms, air defense capabilities, and [enhance] the understanding of coalition weapons that are engaging in close air support and precision air strikes.”

Anyway, Syria aside, the spyplane has been pretty active in Europe as well: on Jul. 5, the aircraft flew an interesting mission along the borders of Finland, Estonia and Latvia, similarly to what happened on Jun. 18, 2015, when the aircraft flew from Kazan to Crimea and back, closely following the border between Russia and Ukraine (a mission profile that caused some concern back then).

Tu-214R Finland

As already explained, this kind of aircraft usually loiters/circles in a friendly or uncontested airspace at high altitude and at safe distance (but within range of the onboard sensors) from the target(s) of interest or along the border of the enemy country.

Image credit: Rimma Sadykova/Wiki

 

Intense video shows the moment a Russian helicopter is downed by ISIS in Syria

The skies over Syria are quite dangerous.

On Jul. 9, a Russian Mi-35M helicopter was shot down by Daesh east of Palmyra the Russian MoD reported.

The gunship was flying a mission in support of the loyalist forces along with an Mi-24P Hind when it was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed into the ground killing the two crew members.

According to the latest reports, Daesh and rebels have grown their anti-aircraft capabilities by means of SAM (Surface to Air Missile) systems and MANPADS.

The Syrian regime has lost several aircraft due to anti-aircraft weaponry since the beginning of the uprising.