Belarus Preps Additional Attack Aircraft for Export
A review of satellite imagery shows some new developments at the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant in Baranovichi. Co-located at the 61st Fighter Airbase, the Belarusian-based Plant overhauled two Su-24M Fencer attack aircraft and a Mi-8-17 Hip transport helicopter, imagery from late June suggests.
Previously decommissioned from the Air and Air Defense Force, the aircraft were repainted in a desert camo scheme and parked near the facility’s engine test stand with wings and rotor blades removed. Initially, it was thought the Su-24M were a part of an order to supply Sudan with 12 of the platform, but a review of satellite imagery of the country’s airfields has thus far not indicated the presence of additional aircraft. Sudan has already received at least four of the twin-engine, supersonic aircraft, two of which were confirmed operating in Saudi Arabia for the Yemen conflict. Public records from the UN and SIPRI’s arms transfer database showed no new export filings by the Eastern European country. We’ll continue to watch future imagery for more insight.
In the meantime, further space snapshots acquired in August of the airfield showed the arrival of two IL-76 Candid transport aircraft. They may have arrived to transfer additional equipment to the 558 or pick-up equipment for export. Another desert camo Mi-8-17 Hip was also parked on a helicopter hardstand associated with the 558th; rotor blades were attached at the time of capture. Imagery from late in the month also showed the re-location of a former Belarusian Su-24M to the airfield’s operations apron. The Fencer may be undergoing flight tests prior to receiving a new camo pattern and being sent for export. The aircraft was joined by 3 x Mi-8-17 Hip and 3 x Mi-24 Hind, still thought to be in service with the country’s air defense arm. Several of the former Belarusian Su-24, previously in open storage, have been cannibalized and possibly put into longer term storage over the past year. Previous imagery shows their fuselage were wrapped and relocated near the 558th’s drive-through maintenance facility. Belarus retired its ageing fleet of Fencer in 2011.