Tag Archives: Syria

Russia has just deployed its most advanced spyplane to Syria

A Russian Air Force Tu-214R is about to land at Latakia, Syria.

The Tu-214R is a Russian ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft. In other words, a quite advanced spyplane.

As we have already explained here in the past, it is a special mission aircraft equipped with all-weather radar systems and electro optical sensors that produce photo-like imagery of a large parts of the ground: these images are then used to identify and map the position of the enemy forces, even if these are camouflaged or hidden.

The aircraft is known to carry sensor packages to perform ELINT (Electronic Intelligence) and SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) missions: the antennae of the Tu-214R can intercept the signals emitted by the enemy systems (radars, aircraft, radios, combat vehicles, mobile phones etc) so as it can build the EOB (Electronic Order of Battle) of the enemy forces: where the enemy forces are operating, what kind of equipment they are using and, by eavesdropping into their radio/phone communications, what they are doing and what will be their next move.

The aircraft is built by KAPO (Kazan Aircraft Production Association) and flown from the company’s airfield in Kazan.

On Feb. 15, 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, flew from Kazan to Latakia airbase, Syria.

LX9203

Image credit: Flightradar24.com

With its ADS-B transponder signals broadcast in the clear and detected by Flightradar24 collecting stations, the aircraft could be tracked as it followed the eastern corridor from Russia, to the Caspian Sea and then to Syria via the Iranian and Iraqi airspaces. It’s not clear whether the aircraft has already been delivered to the Russian Air Force, even though it is quite weird that a developmental aircraft is deployed abroad (unless the reason is testing it at war in a real scenario…).

While it was still under development, the same Tu-214R aircraft flew what appeared to be an operative mission on Jun. 18, 2015, when it flew from Kazan to Crimea and back, closely following the border between Russia and Ukraine, most probably testing some of its sensors against real targets.

Previously, the aircraft was spotted flying near Crimea.Interestingly, while over the Caspian Sea, approaching the Iranian airspace, the Tu-214R performed a couple of 360° turns at 33.000 feet (weird, while enroute): maybe it was working on the diplomatic clearence to enter Iran?

 

Image credit: Rimma Sadykova/Wiki

 

Russian supermaneuverable Su-35 Flankers have started flying over Syria

Russian Gen. 4++ fighter jet has joined the air war over Syria.

Yet another Russian modern weapon system has joined the Syrian Air War.

Previously exposed by images appeared on some Russian aerospace forums (that allegedly showed the aircraft during trailing a Tu-154 during the deployment), supermaneuverable Su-35S fighters have started “to carry out military tasks last week”, as confirmed by Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov.

The (four) aircraft will provide cover to the Russian warplanes conducting raids in Syria, that are already being covered by both RuAF and Syrian jets as well as the S-400 Triumf battery installed at Hmeymim airbase, near Latakia.

According to the Interfax News Agency, the aircraft belong to the first batch delivered in October-November last year “that were initially attached to the 23rd fighter aircraft regiment of the 303rd guard combined aviation division of the 11th Air Force and Air Defense Army of the Eastern Military district stationed at the Dzengi airfield and relocated to the Privolzhsky airfield in Astrakhan in a later period.”

The aircraft deployed to Syria following the usual route over the Caspian Sea, Iran and Iraq.

The 4++ generation Su-35 is characterized by supermaneuverability. Although it’s not stealth (even if some sources say it can detect stealth planes like the F-35 at a distance of over 90 kilometers…), once engaged in a WVR (Within Visual Range) air-to-air engagement, it can freely maneuver to point the nose and weapons in any direction, to achieve the proper position for a kill.

The deployment will give the Russians an opportunity to test their new combat plane in a real war environment.

Image credit: Oleg Belyakov/Wiki

 

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 Mi-35M gunship helicopter appears in Syria for the first time

The most advanced variant of the Hind helicopter has arrived at Latakia airbase.

New footage filmed by RT at Russian aircraft operating at Hmeymim air base in Latakia, on Friday, proves Moscow has eventually deployed to Syria the most modern variant of the Hind: the Mi-35M.

See below after 00:11.

A combat transport helicopter with anti-tank and assault capabilities, the Mi-35M is a variant of the older Mi-24 gunship featuring a modified airframe with fixed landing gear and cropped wings as well as the X-shaped tail rotor of the Mi-28N.

According to the recently-issued “Russia’s Warplanes, Volume 1” by Piotr Butowski published by Harpia Publishing, one of the most authoritative sources on Russian-made military aircraft and helicopters today and set to become the standard reference work on the subject, the Russian Air Force operates 49 Mi-35M examples, along with around 150 older Mi-24s, with the following peculiarities.

Whilst it carries the same self-protections as the Mi-24P, the Mi-35 is equipped with advanced avionics, including an Integrated KNEI-24 suite with MVK computer and MFDs (two for pilot and one for WSO). The cockpit is NVG-compatible, with crews provided with Geo-ONV-1 or OVN-1 Skosok NVGs, and includes satellite navigation receivers, KSS-28N-3 comms suite with two UHF and one HF radio, and secure datalink.

The Mi-35M can carry up to 16 missiles (instead of 8), including four new 9M39 Igla-V instead of Strelas. New weapons include the heavy 122mm S-13 unguided rockets. Still, what makes the chopper extremely deadly is GSh-23V cannon with 450 rounds in a undernose turret that can be moved +/-60° in azimuth and +10/-40° in elevation.

The sighting of the Mi-35Ms marks the arrival of another modern weapons system within the ranks of the contingent Russia has unleashed against terrorists in Syria along with Su-30SMs, Su-34s, Kalibr, S-400 and Kilo-class sub (to name but few).

By the way, for more details on Mi-35s as well as other Russian warplanes, here’s the link for “Russia’s Warplanes, Volume 1”

Stunning Photos Show the F-22 Raptor training with the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale in the U.S.

NATO’s three most advanced combat planes flying together during exercise.

The photographs in this post were taken recently in the skies near Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

They show a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, a Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon and a French Air Force Dassault Rafale, flying together during the inaugural Trilateral anti-access/area denial exercise scheduled for Dec. 2 – 18.

Hosted by the 1st FW (Fighter Wing), the East Coast drills focus on integrated operations with the aim to gain an understanding of the required tactics, techniques, procedures as well as logistics and support associated with fighting in a highly-contested scenario made of layered long-range air defenses.

To make things even more realistic, the exercise does not only feature the NATO’s premiere combat aircraft but also a wide variety of supporting assets: along with the “Bad Guys” (U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and the Langley-based T-38 Talons that always train against the Raptor stealth fighter) there are U.S. E-3 AWACS as well as U.S. and French Air Force tankers.

According to U.S. Air Force Col. Pete Fesler, the commander of the 1st FW: “The RAF and FrAF are our vital strategic partners and allies in the current fight against extremism, and will be in any foreseeable future conflict,” said Fesler. “The trilateral exercise gives us an opportunity to train together in realistic counter-air and strike scenarios. This training is critical to ensure that we have day-one interoperability for future contingency operations.”

Interestingly, whilst the USAF Raptor, the British Typhoon and the French Rafale multi-role combat planes train in the U.S. to gain air superiority in a modern A2/AD (anti-access/area denial environment), the same three kinds of aircraft are currently involved in a real war against ISIS in Syria and they daily operate well inside a Russian super-MEZ (Missile Engagement Zone) created with the deployment of the Moskva guided-missile cruiser (with its S-300F) off Latakia and the installation an S-400 Triumf battery at Hmeymim airbase: perhaps an interesting real-world scenario to test at least a few of those procedures studied in the permissive skies over Virginia.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force