Tag Archives: Propaganda

“We Always Managed To Get Behind US-led Coalition Fighter Jets Encountered Over Syria” Cocky Russian Pilot Says

“We always found ourselves ‘on their tails’ as the pilots say, which means victory in a dogfight.” Just the latest chapter of Russia’s hybrid warfare in Syria?

Close encounters between Russian and U.S. aircraft over Syria are nothing new. What’s new is the way this close-quarter Russian/U.S. shadow boxing incidents are reported from both sides: two incidents, one on November 23 and another one on December 13, made headlines in Russia and the U.S. with differing accounts of the nearly identical incidents and the reasons they happened.

For instance, dealing with the first one, according to the Russian version, a Sukhoi Su-35S was scrambled after a U.S. F-22 interfered with two Su-25s that were bombing an Islamic State target and chased the Raptor away. The Russian account was denied by the U.S. Central Command, that in an email to The Aviationist explained that there was no truth in the allegation:

“According to our flight logs for Nov 23, 2017, this alleged incident did not take place, nor has there been any instance where a Coalition aircraft crossed the river without first deconflicting with the Russians via the deconfliction phone line set up for this purpose. Of note, on Nov 23, 2017, there were approximately nine instances where Russian fighter aircraft crossed to the east side of the Euphrates River into Coalition airspace without first using the deconfliction phone. This random and unprofessional activity placed Coalition and Russian aircrew at risk, as well as jeopardizing Coalition ability to support partner ground forces in the area.”

Dealing with the second incident, U.S. officials told Fox News that a USAF F-22 Raptor stealth fighter flew in front of a pair of Russian Air Force Su-25 Frogfoot attack jets near Al Mayadin, Syria, “an area off-limits to Russian jets based on a long-standing mutual agreement”. In an attempt to force the Russian aircraft to change course, the American stealth jet cut across the front of the Russian jets, and released flares (a tactic known as ‘head-butting,’ meant to send a strong warning to an opposing warplane).

A Russian Flanker flying at MAKS 2017 (Jacek Siminski)

Needless to say, this time it was the Russians to deny the version of events: according to the Russian MoD the Su-25s were escorting a humanitarian convoy on the western side of the Eurphrates and it was the U.S. aircraft that crossed the deconfliction line. “A Russian Su-35 fighter jet, performing an air cover mission at an altitude of 10,000 meters, swiftly approached the F-22 from the rear, forcing the American aircraft to leave the area.”

“We saw anywhere from six to eight incidents daily in late November, where Russian or Syrian aircraft crossed into our airspace on the east side of the Euphrates River,” Lt. Col. Damien Pickart of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command told U.S. news outlet CNN recently. “It’s become increasingly tough for our pilots to discern whether Russian pilots are deliberately testing or baiting us into reacting, or if these are just honest mistakes.”

On Dec. 29, the state-run RT media outlet reported:

Russian pilots always managed to get behind US-led coalition fighter jets they encountered in the skies over Syria, a Russian ace said after receiving a state award from President Putin at the Kremlin.

When meeting our partners from the Western coalition in the air, we always found ourselves ‘on their tails’ as the pilots say, which means victory in a dogfight,” Russian Airspace Forces major, Maksim Makolin, said.

The so-called ‘lag pursuit’ when the nose of an attacking plane points at the tail of the opponent’s aircraft is considered the optimum location in an aerial fight. It allows the plane at the back a range of options, from increasing or maintaining range without overshooting to freely attacking, all the while remaining concealed in the blind spot behind the defending aircraft.

Makolin became one of the 14,000 Russian servicemen who received state decorations for their courage and professionalism during the two-year-long Russian campaign in Syria.

We have already discussed these close encounters, the tactical value of supermaneuverability vs stealthiness, the ROE, etc. In this case it’s only worth noticing there is no attempt to ease tensions, quite the contrary, as if certain statements were part of a hybrid warfare made of actual aircraft, as well as cyber warfare, proxy forces and propaganda. In this respect, if you are willing to learn more about “Russia’s campaign to mislead the public and undermine democratic institutions around the world,” I suggest you reading this report here.  “It reveals how the Russian government is conducting a major multi-pronged propaganda campaign to spread false information… […]”

Image credit: Dmitry Terekhov from Odintsovo, Russian Federation/Wiki

Stunning MiG-21 Highway Operations in the Polish equivalent of Top Gun

Regarding the last post about the Korean MiG-21s’ highway operations here’s another interesting thing.

It is a fragment of a Polish movie Na Niebie i Na Ziemii (In the Sky & On the Ground) which is an excellent example of Cold War propaganda. The given fragment of the 90-minute movie shot in 1973 shows a group of MiGs landing on the highway strip somewhere in Poland.

The production was to be an eastern equivalent of the Top Gun mixed with The Right Stuff.  It tells a fictional story about a young military pilot who wanted to become a test pilot but health problems prevent him from flying.

In opposition to Top Gun, where MiGs were played by F-5 Tigers painted in black color scheme with red stars, the Polish movie introduces us to the whole range of the authentic People’s Republic of Poland‘s Air Force airplanes.

Some scenes in the movie are very similar to those from the French contemporary production Skyfighters featuring Mirage 2000s, as the one showing the MiGs flying over the sea.

The camera work in the film is excellent, with various shots filmed with cameras mounted on different parts of MiGs and other planes.

Mig-21 landing gear

Image Credits: Tomasz Sowiński, Polish Air Force

The historical context imposed by the Cold War made the tactical experts wonder how to get rid off one of the basic drawbacks of an airplane – runway dependency. The reality of nuclear war to come was brutal; airstrips and their coordinates were not secret, neither in the West nor in Soviet Russia. Obviously they would be destroyed in the beginning of any conflict. Polish Highway strip

The air superiority could be achieved by destroying the infrastructure needed for the airplanes to operate. Dispersing the aircraft was an idea which was often talked about after the WWII and some countries developed a concept of highway strip.

The Polish Top Gun-like movie was shot in various locations, and makes extensive use of so called DOLs which stands for Drogowy Odcinek Lotniskowy, which is a Polish name for highway strips.

Poland had 21 highway strips. Usually these improvised runways are section of road with wider ends to provide parking spaces for the planes and ground crew.

The only DOL which still serves the initial purpose is located near Stettin (Szczecin). It is located north of the city nearby non-existent village named Rzęśnica on the Voyvodeship Road 142 nearby the S3 State Road on the German-planned highway towards Kaliningrad.

This highway was bulit in the 1930s by Adolf Hitler and was a part of the Reichsautobahn network which emerged before the WWII.

The remaining ones present different conditions, but they are mostly out of use due to the technical state.

Poland and Sweden were among the countries that trusted the idea of highway strip extensively. The picture here shows DOL in Przeździęk Wielki – Rustkowo (Wielbark Municipality).

Anyway, here’s the fragment of the movie.


Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist.com


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