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Sighting of R-166-0.5 signals vehicle affirms inflow of Russian military into Syria

September 16, 2015

By Oryx


The past few days have seen a steep increase of evidence revealing the true extent of direct military involvement by the Russian military on the ground in Syria. The sighting of recently delivered Russian UAVs and Russian BTR-82A infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) in addition to sound fragments confirming Russian military personnel directly participated in one of regime’s offensives in the Lattakia Governorate all proved Russia was deeper involved in the Syrian Civil War than many previously thought.

The true extent of Russia’s commitment in aiding the regime was further revealed by the frequent transits of a large number of Russian landing ships bound for Syria through the strait of Bosphorus along with at least fifteen flights made by Russian Air Force An-124s strategic airlifters to Lattakia. These ships and aircraft brought large numbers of vehicles, equipment and personnel to Syria. In order to house the Russian contingent, Hmeemeem/Bassel al-Assad IAP has been turned into a Russian military base and is currently being reconstructed to allow the deployment of land and air assets.

Newly published images showing a Russian R-166-0.5 (ultra) high-frequency signals (HF/VHF) vehicle driving through Syria’s coastal region now leaves little to no doubt on Russia’s intentions in Syria. The R-166-0.5 provides jam-resistant voice and data communications over a long range, enabling Russian troops to communicate with their bases in the coastal strongholds of Tartus and Lattakia while operating far inland.

The vehicle can be seen escorted by Syrian military personnel, likely belonging to the National Defence Force (NDF). Far more interesting however is the soldier sitting near the open hatch of the vehicle. Seemingly unaware that a photo is being taken, he is wearing the Russian Army’s standard digital flora uniform, once again proving that we’re truly dealing with Russian military personnel.

On the rear of the vehicle, darker olive paint has been used to conceal the tactical number of the R-166-0.5, eliminating any chance to identify the brigade the vehicle belongs to. Concealing the tactical number or any other identification marks became standard practice during the Ukrainian conflict.


According to an unofficial Russian Army brigade TOE (Table of Organization & Equipment), a total of eight R-166-0.5 signals (HF/VHF) vehicles equip the communications battalion of a brigade. The sighting of the R-166-0.5 thus means that a brigade HQ or, at least, a reinforced battalion (so-called Battalion Tactical Team) of Russian combat troops has recently arrived in Syria.

Some of the specifications of the R-166-0.5 (an example operated by the Russian Army can be seen below) as translated from this Russian Army fact-sheet:

Max range:

HF, stationary (with deployed antenna) – up to 1000 km

HF, on the move – up to 250 km

UHF, stationary – up to 70 km

UHF, on the move – up to 25 km

Frequency range:

HF – 1.5-29.99999 MHz

UHF – 30-107.975 MHz”


As new information on Russia’s secretive operation in Syria continues to come to light, the deployment to Syria is yet to be strongly condemned by any nation. Although the U.S. has so far been watching with growing concern, warning Russia that its operation might further escalate the Syrian Civil War, it appears to have no real answer to the Russian operation in Syria. Unwilling to provide the Free Syrian Army with MANPADS, and with the majority of the mere sixty U.S. trained FSA fighters already out of action, the U.S. might have sidelined itself in Syria for good.


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  1. Brent

    I think it is great that Russia has sent troops to Syria!!! Let Russia’s terrorists fight against ISIS terrorists instead of each of them killing innocent civilians.

    What are the odds Russia is going to succeed and not have some of their troops in Syria over run, captured or beheaded? How is that going to play out on the internet or on Russian tv? And if they do succeed and defeat ISIS, that’s also good!!!

    And maybe Obumbla will wake up and realize he has do a better job on the foreign policy front and also on dealing with Russia’s terrorists and mafia government.

    • masa

      Intelligent post.
      Especially that part regarding Russia’s terrorists fighting with ISIS terrorists.

    • pat

      note the west has been criticised for their years of insurgency operations , and yet the very same people doing all the mouthing will be the bigger fools soon ? and for not recognising that NATO has built up years of priceless combat experience, weapons plus new equipment development and evaluation and have incorporated counter insurgency into all of their training programmes at basic and advanced levels plus major exercises like the biggest one since 2002 in October called Trident Juncture which will see elements of that training for recognised future wars?

  2. Dr.Roggers

    All this time we saw only the appetizers been served. Now we see slowly heading towards the main menu. Let’s see what they have planned for dessert.

  3. Mad Dog

    The problem has been and always will be the fact that Assad is intent on destroying any and all opposition, including that of 3-year old ‘terrorists’. He has not discriminated in anyway, using his weapons (and now the Russians) to devastate large segments of the population. As with the MH fiasco, this can get out of hand and the stage is set for another human disaster.

  4. Yojimbot

    What if some of that hardware ends up in isis’ hands like so much of the U.S. Arsenal after the fall of Mosul?

    • Mr Johnson

      Yojimbot – September 17th, 2015 wrote:
      What if some of that hardware ends up in isis’ hands like so much of the U.S. Arsenal after the fall of Mosul?

      Don’t worry, ISIS only gets trained on American weapons.

  5. Paulo Romero

    At least Putin has the sense to do the right thing at the right time regardless of his motives. If the Syrian Army falls it will be a complete massacre for at least 2 million Alawites, Christians and other minorities. The responsibility for this shambles lies with the West. Firstly they encouraged rebellion then allowed the Saudis, Turks and other pro Sunni nations to support whoever they preferred which incubated Isis. The only moderates in this conflict are the Syrian Kurds and Assad himself, the rest are religious zealots and fanatics who’d sooner sell out to Isis than even hear of democracy.

    • Brian S.

      There is a broad political spectrum of armed opposition groups in Syria – and they have been far more effective in fighting ISIS (which Assad cynically ignored as they were rising to power) than the regime. ISIS was driven out of half of the territory they had occupied in Syria by summer 2014 by opposition forces (not inclusing the Kurds). The Kurdish YPG also fights in cooperation with one section of the anti-Asad Free Syrian Army.

    • pat

      right thing, no option as Putin’s man on the ground in Syria could see the writing on the wall and called Moscow , no one is going to get slaughtered as Russia and its proxy Iran fight to maintain their foothold , more so Iran and its proxy Hezbollah seek to remain as permanent residents which will go down well with Israel , and now Turkey wonders if the Russians intention is to build a big military base permanently some 70 miles from its borders , all to play for, and a lot to loose for both parties , but first we can watch as Russia attempts its first real counter insurgency operation since its last Afgan adventure

    • Mad Dog

      I really take issue with that Paulo. The original demonstrations were peaceful and not at all dangerous to anyone until Assad, following in the footsteps of his thug father, suppressed them violently. Assad has never been a moderate and never really secular, putting most of his trusted friends from the Alawite community in power. Just like Saddam and his very very Sunni friendly regime. Allowing this to get out of hand was not the West’s fault, but rests solely on his and his buddies the Russians, ChiComs, and Irans shoulders. As for ISIS, that is another iteration of AQ in Iraq, which was soundly defeated by US forces with the help of local Sunni tribes! The tactical running of ISIS is basically carried out by Saddam era ex-Iraqi officers looking for a chance to get all their perqs back. Saddam, erh, Assad brought this on himself with his brutality.

  6. LoveOneAnother

    Russia is interfering with Obama’s plans. Obama has no interest in ISIS to be defeated. It is true. Obama banned bombing ISIS positions.

  7. pat

    note the Golan heights listening posts along with Cyprus will be busy and will probably draft in a lot more Russian speakers given the amount of Russian chatter now out there.


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