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Confirmed: SU-25s Join Russia’s Flankers in Latakia

September 21, 2015

By Chris Biggers

AB (20SEPT15) Al-Asad AB

Satellite imagery acquired by Airbus of al-Assad International Airport shows new arrivals supporting Russia’s growing military presence.

Space snapshots from 20SEPT15 show twelve SU-25 Frogfoot joining the four SU-30SM Flanker already parked at the airport, a location ten miles south of Latakia.

Earlier the SU-30SM were misidentified by the media as SU-27.

The latest imagery was published by AllSource Analysis via several partner sites (ISW) (Stratfor).

The SU-30SM multirole fighters are some of Russia’s more advanced combat aircraft capable of air superiority and ground attack roles. They’re highly maneuverable 4+ generation fighters often compared to the US F-15E.

The Frogfoot is the Russian equivalent of the US-built A-10 Warthog, providing dedicated close air support. The twin-engine Sukhoi has five hard-points underneath each wing for carrying weapons and an array of attachments.

The aircraft first proved itself in the 1980s during Soviet counterinsurgency missions in Afghanistan, and has since joined the inventories of countries around the world.

It’s expected that these aircraft will soon be joined by other Russian SU-24M Fencer which news reports say are already at the airbase. Videos on youtube of alleged sightings also suggest they’re deployed to the country.

In total, US officials claim Russia has 28 combat aircraft in Syria which include the SU-25s.

19NOV14 Al Rashid AB Iraq annotated

However, this isn’t the first time Russia’s dedicated ground attack aircraft have been employed to take part in the conflict.

Next door in Iraq, three former Russian Air Force Frogfoot were delivered to Baghdad’s al-Rashid airbase in late June 2014. Iraq’s forces were doing so poorly combating ISIS, they were rushed to the Middle Eastern country without their desert camo scheme.

Imagery from last November still shows them operating from the airbase, circled above in red. They’re easy to distinguish thanks to their darker colour camo pattern.

They were parked on the apron next to four Iranian SU-25 which reportedly deployed last July from Shiraz airbase. Imagery from 2015 of Shiraz airbase would suggest they still remain in the fight.

Chris Biggers

Chris Biggers is a public and private sector consultant based in Washington, D.C.

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13 Comments

  1. Steeph

    Are the Iranian aircraft at al-Rasheed deployed as of still in the possession of the IRIAF, sold or donated to Iraq?

    Reply
  2. Randy Dread

    How are the planes getting there?

    Are they flying across Iran, Iraq and Syria and refuelling in the air on the way?

    Or being unloaded from ships somehow?

    Reply
        • boggled

          Not sure Randy, I have not seen either method with my own eyes in regards to Syria, or the military access to that knowledge.
          Chris is a little more familiar with it and more of an expert.
          I just passed along a link from a quite reliable source.

          Could be both ways. but best use of those cargo planes would have been for ammo, helicopters and other items for cargo drops.

          Ships from the Black Sea for aviation fuel and flying the planes in would be cheaper then disassembling planes for transport, crating, transporting them, unloading, unpacking, putting them back together, testing, and all the personnel involved.
          And quicker.

          So this that is demonstrated in the link would probably be the most common method, and least expensive for moving the aircraft.

          Also could be delivered on ships out of Crimea, although those were mainly full of ground based hardware and ammo.
          Makes you wonder how he would have used the Mistrals if he had them.
          And if these were in his plans to use in Syria as soon as he acquired them.
          And if this has been in the works for a while.

          Fare thee well

          Reply
          • Randy Dread

            Oh haven’t you heard?

            Looks like the Mistrals will be ending up in Russian hands after all.

          • boggled

            Indications are that is possible, but I have yet to read all the official Egyptian press, to see if that is just Russian sponsored media talking BS or if it is a likelihood.
            I doubt it happens, but predicting global politics has made a fool of many before.
            I have a feeling Egypt really wants them (financed by SA remember) to protect itself against Iran and some of their smuggling operations.
            As well as a little control of refugees (both Syrian and African) as well as protection of its ships and naval bases.

            It is not like they need the money desperately (Egypt or SA).
            I think the likelihood of the Kremlin getting their grubby hands on either is very low.

            Fare thee well

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