Tag Archives: Sukhoi Su-34

From Russia With Love: Our MAKS 2017 Report From Zhukovsky

Last week we have attended the MAKS 2017 Aviasalon in Moscow, held at the Zhukovsky/Ramenskoe airfield. MAKS is probably the only event where you can see all the latest Russian hardware (including the PAK FA) being demoed in dynamic displays.

MAKS is not a typical air-show, it should rather be seen as a trade exhibition with the aerospace industry gathering in order to sign new agreements and sell their products. Nonetheless, flying demos seem to be a good way to work on this, as you may also see what the given aircraft does in the air.

However, the static display at the Moscow Salon is equally impressive. This year it featured virtually any piece of contemporary Russian hardware one could imagine, as well as some legacy aircraft, including some exotic airframes, such as the MiG 1.44.

There were no PAK FA jets presented within the static display, which is a pity, however the remaining aircraft also brought one to awe. Ranging from Mil’s helicopters, Il-76MD90-A airlifter, through almost all varieties of the MiG-29 family jets, Sukhois (Su-35, Su-34, Su-30SM included), Tupolev’s bombers (Tu-22M, Tu-160, Tu-95MS), Kamov’s helicopters, with Tu-144 supersonic jetliner or Atlant, the Myashischev’s oversize cargo carrier, to finish with.

The Zhukovsky airfield is, undoubtedly, during the MAKS Salon, a place to be for any “aviation Russophile.”

The air show schedule was, according to frequent visitors at MAKS, not so impressive. Still, for someone like this Author – a first timer – it was jaw-dropping enough.

The show began with a display of the Russian helicopters, flying first in formation, just to perform individual displays later on – watching a giant Mil Mi-26T2 in the air performing graceful dance in the air is a thing one could not witness anywhere else. Attack helicopters also performed unique maneuvers. Unfortunately, Kamov’s designs only did a flypast, with no dynamic displays involved.

The helicopters portion of the show was followed by a dynamic display of the Il-2 Sturmovik aircraft, the world’s second surviving and flying example (reportedly, one more aircraft of this type is also flying in the United States). Notably, the pilot did not make it easy for the warbird, pushing it quite hard throughout the demonstration.

SR-10 trainer with its wings swept forward also took the air.

The show also featured several displays by United Federation of Ultralight Aviation of Russia and civilian aerobatic teams like “The First Flight”.

Nonetheless, the MAKS show is attended mainly for the “heavy metal” portion of it. And the prelude to that part came in a form of a MiG-29M2 display, which, nonetheless was only a starter.

MiG-29 Fulcrum head-on.

Then, two Yak-130 (trainer and a combat variant) jets also performed an interesting duo-display, with plenty of flares involved.

A fully armed Yak-130 releases plenty of flares during its demo.

The Yak-130 Red “02” of the Gromov Flight Research Institute.

After that, the Sukhoi company’s pack of aircraft, including two T-50 PAK FAs, a Su-35 and a Su-34 took off into the air, showing off the maneuverability capabilities of the latest Russian jets. The display schedule varied across the days, and on the weekend we could have also witnessed a flight of four Su-35s performing a display.

The stealthy PAK FA was one of the hightlights of the show. The aircraft flew a sort of simulated aerial engagement with another PAK FA and also flew alongside the Su-35.

The T-50 PAK FA and the supermaneuverable Su-35S.

These two Su-35s were part of a larger formation of four Flankers performing their display during the weekend.

The Su-34 17 Red during take off.

The Su-34 turning and burning during the flying display.

The Fullback showcasing its wide array of weapons during its MAKS 2017 display.

To add a spice to the whole dish, two more aerobatic teams were using the Su-27 derivatives: a team of the Russian Navy, flying two Su-30SMs and performing a tactical display with air combat maneuvering involved, and the “Russkiye Vityazi” (the Russian Knights) team, flying six Su-30SMs in a ballet-like, breathtaking group display. Hearing 12 mighty Saturn engines is an experience which has to be lived-through and cannot be described vividly enough.

The Russian Knights were delivered the Su-30SMs in Fall 2016 and performed their first public display with the new supermaneuverable multirole aircraft at Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition earlier this year.

The Su-30SM a 4+ Generation twin-engine, two seat supermaneuverable multi-role aircraft equipped with improved avionics, the Bars-R radar and a wide-angle HUD (Head Up Display).

Also the Russia’s naval aviation operates a batch of advanced Su-30SM (Flanker-C) multirole fighter jets.

Last, but not least, the displays were complemented by a show by the Strizhi aerobatic team flying the MiG-29s.

Notably, the Russians show also featured loads of flares, with quantities very much exceeding what one can witness anywhere in Europe – this concerns the Strizhi and the Russkiye Vityazi displays.

A Russian Knights Su-30 releases flares during the team’s display.

Launching hundreds of flares simultaneously is beyond spectacular. Moreover, the weather conditions at MAKS, involving high level of humidity in the air, mean that some awesome “irisation” phenomena could be captured. This happens when the clouds of condensed vapor form on the airframe as the jet is seen against the sun: one can witness a rainbow being trailed behind the jet. The weather at MAKS was varied, from storms to 30 degrees centigrade heat, hence there were many chances to witness the aforesaid sights.

“Irisation” phenomenon clearly visible in this shot of the Russian Knights.

When it comes to foreign participation in the show, this year, due to the political tensions with Russia, it was somewhat limited, and only two foreign guests performed their displays in the air – the Al Fursan aerobatic team which is very much reminiscent of the program demonstrated by the Italian Frecce Tricolori group (it also involves the very same type of aircraft) and the Baltic Bees Jet Team, hailing from Latvia.

The UAE display team Al Fursan flying the MB.339 aircraft.

Overall, even though the MAKS show was said to be more modest than its former editions, undoubtedly it is an event worth attending. The sole fact that one can witness the Russian most advanced aircraft flown by the best pilots who know the aircraft’s capabilities by heart, is enough to go to Moscow.

Moreover, when attending MAKS, it would be a sin not to visit the Monino Museum of the Russian Air Force, which is just 2 hours train ride from the Kazansky train station in Moscow. The collection of aircraft gathered there, including the Sukhoi T-4 or some unique prototypes is, without any doubt, also worth seeing and appreciating.

The only Sukhoi T-4 on display at Monino Central Air Force Museum.

Many thanks go to Foto Poork who assisted us in obtaining the media accreditation and supported the visa procedure in Poland, and to Andrzej Rogucki who provided us with assistance in getting around Russia without getting hurt.

All Images: Jacek Siminski

9 Russian and 8 Turkish combat planes carry out the first joint air strike in Syria

The Turkish Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces have launched a joint raid against Islamic State targets in the Aleppo province.

Four Su-24Ms, four Su-25s and one Su-34 bomber of the Russian Air Force along with four F-16 and four F-4 jets belonging to the Turkish Air Force have carried out the first joint strike in Syria on Jan. 18: an interesting mix of aircraft for a quite rare COMAO (Combined Air Operation) made of platforms able to perform CAS (Close Air Support), BAI (Battlefield Air Interdiction), S/DEAD (Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defenses) and Strike as well as Air Superiority and Aerial Escort.

The raid aimed at destroying 36 ground targets was previously agreed with Syrian authorities, said Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoy, the chief of the Russian General Staff Main Operational Directorate in a briefing in Moscow. Considered that Turkey is a NATO member hence the TuAF regularly trains with other western air forces and that the Russian Aerospace Force jets employ completely different procedures, standards, etc., it would be interesting to know something more about the preparation, coordination and execution of such joint raid.

Anyway, according to the first estimates provided by the Russian high-rank officer, the joint airstrikes near Al-Bab, in the Aleppo province, “have been highly effective.”

The raid came amid a nationwide ceasefire in Syria which came into effect on Dec. 30 and, according to the analysts, was in support of Turkey’s Operation Euphrates Shield, launched on Aug. 24, 2016 to clear the Syrian border town of Jarabulus and the surrounding area from Daesh terrorist group with the support of the FSA (Free Syria Army) and US-led coalition planes.

Al-Bab is one of Daesh’s last remaining strongholds near the Turkish border; the help of the Russians seems to be essential to prevent the Syrian Kurds from taking it.

The crisis between Moscow and Ankara that followed the downing of the Russian Air Force Su-24 by a TuAF F-16 on Nov. 24, 2015, seems decades away.

Image credit: Russia MoD

 

Salva

These photos of everyday life at Hmeymim say a lot about the Russian Air Force operations in Syria

These photos provide lots of details about the operations of the Russian Air Force contingent in Syria.

The Russian MoD has recently made available some really cool photographs showing ordinary day life at Hmeymim airfield, near Latakia, the headquarters of the Russian Air Force contingent in Syria.

By taking a look at the images we can gather interesting details about the jets and helicopters deployed to the airbase in northwestern Syria: payload, mission markings, insignia (or lack of thereof) etc.

The Mi-8AMTSH reportedly carry the “Rychag-AV” active jamming station.

Hip

The 16 Su-30SM Flanker-H multirole aircraft carry both R-27R/ER semi-active radar-guided air-to-air missiles (AAMs) and R-73 short-range AAMs as well as OFAB-250-270 HE unguided bombs.

Su-30SM taxi

Su-30SM crew

The Su-25SM, that started to fly with four B8M1 (S-8) rocket pods are now carrying also a B13L rocket pods to use with S-13 rockets from 5-tube launchers. The OFAB-250 iron bombs are also often carried by the Frogfoot attack planes (the 250 kg bombs are certainly Russia’s most used weapon by tactical planes in Syria) as the images prove. Interestingly, it seems that at least one of the 12 Su-25s (and a Su-34, not visible in the images in this post) deployed to Latakia still lacks the typical Red Star insignia.

Su-25 rockets

Su-25 dusk

Su-25 FABs

The 12 Su-34 Fullbacks carry KAB-500 TV guided bombs and FAB-500 dumb bombs and have been spotted carrying KAB-1500s as well as 4 ODAB-500PMV thermobaric bombs and electro-optical guided KAB-500KRs too. After carrying AAMs for self-protection in the aftermath of the Su-24 shootdown by a Turkish F-16, the Su-34s don’t seem to carry air-to-air missiles lately: the super-MEZ (missile engagement zone) Russia has created over Syria with the Moskva and the S-400 deployed to Latakia has made the Russian planes safe enough to fly without air-to-air missiles…

Su-34 OFAB

On the other side, they have started sporting red star silhouettes (most probably) to mark 10 air strikes: with 12 mission marks, the Su-34 “25 Red” has performed 120 raids (or more).

Su-34 kill markings

Su-34 aircrew

The about 30 Su-24s (it’s not clear whether the lost one was replaced or not), carry OFAB-250-270 HE fragmentation bombs.

Su-24 takeoff

Here below, an unarmed Su-24 (possibly returning from a raid):

Su-24 unarmed

OFABs

Image credit: Russian MoD

Russian bombers now flying with air-to-air missiles for self-protection over Syria

Following the downing of the Su-24 Fencer on Nov. 24, Russian attack planes fly with air-to-air missiles for self-protection.

The Russian Air Force has decided to arm the Su-34 Fullback attack planes based at Latakia, in Syria, with air-to-air missiles to enhance the defensive capabilities of the aircraft conducting air strikes against terrorists across the country.

This is one of the measures Moscow put in place after a Su-24 Fencer was shot down by a Turkish Air Force F-16 near the Syria-Turkey border on Nov. 24.

A video posted by the Russian MoD, shows the first Su-34 Fullbacks departing from Latakia on Nov. 30 carrying the R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) and R-73 (AA-11 Archer) missiles along with guided (KAB-500KR) and unguided (OFAB-500) bombs.

Besides the introduction of the air-to-air missiles, the Russian Air Force also announced the decision to enhance strike packages protection with a fighter escort: although there are images showing two Su-34s chased by a single Su-30SM multirole aircraft, the number of Flankers is (still) quite limited to provide such a HVAAE (High Value Air Asset Escort) to all the Russian bombers carrying out raids across Syria.

 

In what is probably a first, RT streamed live from Latakia as Russian jets launched war missions

RT streamed real-time the operations of the Russian Su-34s at Latakia airbase.

Announced by a Tweet, for little less than 40 minutes, Ruptly (the video news agency belonging to RT) streamed live from al-Assad airbase, near Latakia, as RuAF attack planes taxied and took off to attack ground targets in Syria.

Considered the confidentiality of such wartime operations, it is at least unusual that people sitting in front of their desktop or laptop, or using a mobile device, are given the opportunity to watch combat sorties as they launch; however it looks like that Russians want everybody to see their aircraft (some of those with the Red Star and insignia still painted over) as they blast out of the Syrian airbase to conduct bomb missions.

Whether the live-stream will be repeated in the next days is unknown.

In the meanwhile, you can watch the full recorded video here:

H/T Alessandro Borsetti for the heads-up