Tag Archives: Latakia

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




U.S. F/A-18 Hornets almost clashed with Russian fighter bombers over Syria

According to the Pentagon, U.S. and Russian combat planes have had some tense moments over Syria.

There have been several close encounters between Russian and U.S. and allied manned and unmanned aircraft over Syria since Moscow deployed a contingent of combat planes to Latakia, in northwestern Syria, at the end of September 2015.

On Oct. 10, 2015, a Russian Su-30SM had close encounter with an unspecified U.S. combat plane supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

According to Russia’s Ministry of Defense, the Flanker-derivative 4++ Gen aircraft was providing air escort for a package of attack planes in Syria when it approached the American plane, to perform a VID (Visual Identification) even though some sources suggested it was the Russian aircraft to be intercepted by a U.S. plane.

Anyway, even before Oct. 10, Russian warplanes tailed U.S. Predator drones on at least three separate occasions and at least a couple of times American aircraft reportedly changed their routing to deconflict with Russian aircraft.

One of those incidents saw the involvement of U.S. F-16s from Incirlik, Turkey, and some RuAF Su-34s.

After the first incidents, Russia and the US agreed on coordinating their air activity in the skies over Syria. More or less.

Close encounters and provocations were still reported quite frequently even after Nov. 24, 2015 when a Turkish Air Force (TuAF) F-16 shot down a Russian Air Force (RuAF) Su-24 that had allegedly violated the Turkish airspace.

In February 2016 the German Air Force said that Russian Air Force (RuAF) jets, including the the 4++ generation Su-35S Flanker air superiority fighters, often shadowed their Tornados during reconnaissance missions in Syrian airspace out carried out from Incirlik airbase, Turkey.

A “near clash” between four Israeli F-15s and two Russian Su-30SMs allegedly occurred on Apr. 20, more than one month after Putin had ordered the withdrawal of part of the Russian combat planes from Hmeymim airbase: flying over the Mediterranean Sea, the Israeli jets approached Latakia forcing the Russians to scramble two of their Sukhoi jets. Several Israeli media outlets even said that Russians fired at least twice on Israeli military aircraft but no incident has ever been confirmed.

Another “near clash” occurred last week, on Jun. 16.

Indeed, as reported by the CNN, U.S. F/A-18s were somehow close to engage Russian Sukhois (still not clear whether Su-34s or Su-24s as there are conflicting reports on the type of aircraft involved) that bombed U.S.-backed Syrian rebels near the Jordan border.

Here’s what happened according to Theodore Schleifer and Barbara Starr:

“The strikes, which the U.S. says killed some New Syrian Army troops, occurred about six miles from the Jordanian border, according to a U.S. defense official.

The U.S. diverted armed FA-18s to the area after the first round of two strikes, and the pilots then tried to call the Russians on a previously agreed-upon pilot-to-pilot communications channel but did not receive an answer.

As soon as the U.S. jets left the area to refuel, the Russians came back for another round of bombing, the defense official said.

“Russian aircraft conducted a series of airstrikes near al-Tanf against Syrian counter-ISIL forces that included individuals who have received U.S. support. Russian aircraft have not been active in this area of Southern Syria for some time, and there were no Syrian regime or Russian ground forces in the vicinity,” a senior defense official said. “Russia’s latest actions raise serious concern about Russian intentions. We will seek an explanation from Russia on why it took this action and assurances this will not happen again.”

The first two bombing runs by the Russians were carried out by two SU-24 Russian jets coming out of their base near Latakia. The jets dropped what is believed to be the equivalent of U.S. 500-pound bombs and possibly cluster munitions, according to the U.S. defense official.”

So, it looks like the American Hornets were pretty close to intercepting the Sukhois (in other reports they were able to visually ID the Russians), tried to contact the Russian planes as these carried out an air strike, but these simply ignored the calls on a previously agreed radio frequency.

The question is what are the ROE (Rules Of Engagement) in place over Syria? Most probably there are strict ROE to prevent escalation and avoid direct confrontation but what would have happened if the U.S. F/A-18 had intercepted the Russian warplanes attacking the US-backed rebels ignoring the American calls?


Russian Mi-28N Night Hunter gunship helicopter crashes in Syria killing both pilots

A Russian helicopter has crashed near Homs, Syria, killing the two pilots on board.

A Russian Mi-28N Havoc combat helicopter, deployed to Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, Syria, has crashed near Homs on Apr. 11, killing both crew members.

According to the Russian MoD the Night Hunter, a modification of the Mi-28 gunship optimized for night combat operations, was not shot down but crashed for reasons yet to be determined.

The Mi-28N is the third loss for the Russian forces in Syria: on Nov. 24, a Su-24 Fencer was shot down by a Turkish Air Force F-16;  during the CSAR mission launched to rescue the two pilots (one of those was killed by the Islamists rebels), a Mi-8AMTSh Hip helicopter was hit by ground fire and later destroyed. A naval infantry officer was killed.

The Mi-28N and Ka-52 helicopters have been deployed to Syria after part of the Air Group was withdrawn on Mar. 14, to provide close air support to Syrian forces, to protect the Russian Task Force deployed to Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, as well as to conduct CSAR (Combat Search And Rescue) missions.

Image credit: Yevgeny Volkov

Job done! Russia’s most advanced spyplane is returning home after deployment in Syria

The Tu-214R is currently returning to Russia after a 14-day deployment to Syria.

The Russian Air Force Tu-214R ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft that was deployed to Syria on Feb. 15 is seemingly returning home.

The aircraft could be tracked online on Flightradar24 thanks to the signals of its ADS-B transponder as it flew from Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia, over the southern Syrian airspace, then into Iraq: the aircraft is likely following the eastern corridor that overflies Iran and the Caspian Sea, and it is possibly returning to Kazan, where KAPO (Kazan Aircraft Production Association), the Russian company that builds the plane.

So, the aircraft has eventually completed its first tour of duty in Syria using its wide array of radar systems and electro optical sensors to map the position of the enemy forces or intercept the signals emitted by the enemy systems (radars, aircraft, radios, combat vehicles, mobile phones etc).

Most probably, among the weapons systems of interest there were also F-22 Raptors performing “kinetic situational awareness” tasks over Syria: the Tu-214R alongside the Il-20 Coot and other ground-based radars might have collected intelligence data needed to “characterize” the F-22’s signature at specific wavelengths.

Actually, there is someone who suggests the aircraft was withdrawn due to complications concerning its logistical maintenance requirements that forward away from Russia…

Image credit: Flightradar24.com


New HD video shows Russian Su-35S Flankers at Latakia airbase

Last few seconds of this footage feature Russian Su-35S Flankers on the flightline at Latakia airbase.

Taken at Hmeymim airbase, the following interesting video shows Russian combat planes involved in the air war over Syria taking off and landing from the airfield located near Latakia, in northwestern Syria.

Noteworthy, in the last few seconds of the clip you can also see the four Su-35S fighters that joined the Russian air war in Syria last week.

These aircraft, that were delivered to the Russian Air Force in the last quarter of 2015, wear serial numbers 02517, 02518, 02619 and 02620.