Tag Archives: Syrian Arab Air Force

Syrian Arab Air Force trainer jets turned into attack planes to strike rebel positions

On Jul. 24, the L-39 Albatros, mistakenly identified by several media outlets as “Migs”, made their first appearance in the Syrian skies.

Since then, many videos uploaded to Youtube have shown Syrian Arab Air Force L-39 combat trainers equipped with an under fuselage gun pod and external stores flying over Aleppo during strafing attacks against Free Syrian Army positions.

The following one, brought to my attention by Brown Moses, is the best I’ve see so far.

It clearly shows a Syrian Albatros with a gun pod and rocket launchers flying over Aleppo. Noteworthy, the aircraft flies at low altitude: a sign that the regime planes are not threatened by MANPADS (Man Portable Air Defense Systems)?

As highlighted in a previous post, there have been no reports of Strela or Igla being used against the Syrian choppers (or planes), most probably because regime forces have seized all the MANPADS from active units to prevent them to end in the rebels hands in case of attack or defection.

The air-to-ground capability on the Syrian L-39 was theoretical until the first footage showed the Albatros carrying the gun pod and stores on at least two of the four underwing hardpoints. Until then, the aircraft was limited to a training role and there were few or no images of armed L-39s in service with the SyAAF.

Maybe the regime has opted for this type of aircraft because it’s more suitable for light attack and close air support in a urban scenario, where slower speeds are required.

L-39 Albatros jet trainer spotted over Aleppo, Syria.

Since it made its first appearance on-line in the night of Jul. 24, I’ve been asked to identify the “mysterious” aircraft spotted over Aleppo earlier on the same day.

Depicted in a BBC report as one of more “Russian-made MiG planes [that] arced through the sky. We watched as they dropped in, bombing and strafing rebel positions” the combat plane is a Syrian Arab Air Force L-39, a combat trainer.

The aircraft can (at least theoretically) be equipped with an under fuselage gun pod and external stores (bombs, rockets and missiles) carried on the four underwing hardpoints (up to 1,000 kg of stores).

Unfortunately, the quality of the following video, that is the best I’ve seen so far, does not give the possibility to see whether the plane is carrying any weapon.

Even if, based on reports, the L-39 (or other “Migs” that are not visible in the footage) was used to drop bombs on rebel position, it could also be used for reconnaissance purposes only (without any armament).

New videos show Syrian gunship helicopters dropping bombs on Homs and Damascus

The Syrian Arab Air Force gunships, “only” used to fire rockets against the Free Syrian Army (FSyA) so far, have started to drop bombs on Homs and Damascus.

The following video is the last of series recently uploaded to Youtube, showing a Syrian Mil Mi-25 releasing what seems to be a Soviet FAB-250 general purpose bomb on Talbiseh, a small city in northwestern Syria, just 10 km Homs.

Along with drones, choppers seem to be the preferred tool used by Sirya against the FSyA. That’s why the Syrian revolution has put instructions on how to shoot down a regime helicopter on-line.

Recently, footage officially released by the regime showed Mig-21s, Mig-23s and also, Mig-29s and Su-24s firing rockets and dropping bombs, along with Mi-25s, Mi-17s and Gazelle operating at low altitude and firing at mock targets during what looked like a large exercise in the desert.

Most probably to prevent the enforcement of a No Fly Zone (as well as defections by experienced pilots), the only combat planes to be spotted in the Syrian sky over disputed towns, since the beginning of the uprising last year, have been some Mig-21 fighter jets.

Impressive video: Syria flexes muscles with live firing exercise including Mig-29s, Mig-23s, Mig-21s, Su-24s and gunship helicopters

The recent downing of a Turkish RF-4E (provided it was really gunned down or shot down with a SAM and it did not crash because of a technical failure) is just the most evident sign of the Syrian military capabilities.

Indeed, even if they were not used much since the beginning of the uprising last year, most probably to prevent the enforcement of a No Fly Zone (as well as defections by experienced pilots), aircraft of all types belonging to the Syrian Arab Air Force put in place an authentic show of force during recent drills that included live firing activity.

Footages of the Syrian planes at work are quite rare, as the secrecy maintained by the Syrian regime in regard to its military is very high.

That’s why the following video showing Mig-21s, Mig-23s and also, Mig-29s and Su-24s firing rockets and dropping bombs in the desert, along with Mi-25s, Mi-17s and Gazelle operating at low altitude and firing at mock targets is particularly interesting.

Although the footage does not help to judge the actual strength of the Syrian Air Force, it shows that Assad’s armed forces are still alive and kicking, and most probably capable to pose a threat to the surrounding nations.

Neither gunned down nor hit by a missile. A technical failure may have caused the crash of the Turkish RF-4E in Syria

The RF-4E that went down inside the Syrian airspace on Jun. 22 may have been downed by a technical failure.

This is more or less what emerges from the latest news released by the Turkish Armed Forces.

According to the report by the Presidency of the Gendarmerie Criminal Department, the remains of the aircraft collected on the water surface did not provide evidence of any organic or inorganic explosive residues, any fire initiator or accelerator substances which are derivatives of petroleum, and there is no sign of an ammunition remnant.

To make it simple: it was neither a missile nor gun fire. Therefore, it could have been a technical malfunction or a sudden emergency that did not give the crew the time to radio the alert.

But it is quite unlikely. After experiencing the failure, the pilot headed towards Syria. A decision that proves that the two on board had the time to react to situation, no matter which one it was.

Also a bit confusing  are the claims by Ankara.

On Jun. 22, Turkey said that one of their planes had been gunned down by Syrian armed forces even though they later claimed it was hit by a SAM missile. Today the latest Turkish official release states that “the plane which was gunned down by the Syrian armed forces, according to the Syrian official authorities” [highlight mine].

The saga continues.

TuAF RF-4E Phantom II

An F-4E flying at night. Image credit: Turkish Air Force