The Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Russia, Vladimir Putin, announced the end of the military operation in Syria. Pilots, sappers, doctors, representatives of other types and branches of the army returned to their places of permanent deployment, to relatives and friends. What are the results of the participation of our Armed Forces, primarily the air forces, in the destruction of gangs over the past two years since the beginning of the operation in the UAR? As our battlefield showed itself aviation equipment?
Recall that the fulfillment of the international duty of the Russian military in the Syrian Arab Republic was carried out at the request of President Bashar al-Assad. A few hours after the Federation Council of the Russian Federation unanimously supported the appeal of Vladimir Putin about the use of the Armed Forces in Syria, the VKS struck the first rocket-bombing attacks on the ground infrastructure of the terrorist Islamic State (banned in Russia).
The grouping of our aircraft at that time was more than 50 aircraft. These are Su-24М2 front-line bombers - deeply modernized machines that have modern navigation and aiming tools to deliver accurate strikes, Su-34 - new multifunctional front-line bombers with modern onboard aiming and navigation systems and armament, attack aircraft Su-25M with armored protection pilot and engine, which adequately passed Afghanistan. As well as multi-purpose fighters Su-30CM, attack helicopters MI-24P and MI-35M, transport-attack Mi-8AMTSH, transport Mi-17, reconnaissance aircraft. All of these machines are extremely reliable, they have good interoperability, and the design itself provides optimum ease of operation.
The Russian air group was stationed at the Khmeimim base (Syria’s Basil Al-Assad international airport), which was guarded by the Black Sea Marine Corps battalion tactical group fleet with reinforcements and special forces. Cover from the sea was provided by Navy ships led by the Moscow missile cruiser. Mi-24 combat helicopters patrolled the near perimeter at low and extremely low altitudes. The base today, after the withdrawal of the main group, is well protected by the air defense system and ground forces.
The main targets of strikes were the combat positions of terrorists, command posts, factories and workshops, large warehouses of military equipment, ammunition, fuel and lubricants, special equipment and food, hidden bases that were previously mothballed and carefully disguised, transshipment and strong points, PU with communication centers caravans with weapons and ammunition, training camps, bridges and other objects.
For specialists, of course, the logical question is: how do combat missions performed by flight crews in Syria differ from those that were in the Afghan campaign? You can answer shortly: almost nothing. Although in any regional campaign is always its own features and novelty. The Afghan, despite numerous miscalculations and mistakes, for the domestic Air Force became almost the most successful and effective in the post-war thirty years. The Su-25 attack aircraft aviators flew for as long as no other combatant pilots in the world flew. In combat operations with the Mujahideen, long-range aviation also performed successfully. It carried out specific combat missions, for example, to destroy the Ahmed Shah Masud lazurite deposit in the region of Jarm, a number of others.
In Syria, the intensity of combat missions was much higher. In particular, only in one of the last months of being in the SAR during the operation to defeat the IG grouping in the Deir ez-Zor region more than 1600 sorties were flown, over two thousand targets were hit. Dozens of warehouses with ammunition and military equipment, weapons, food and special clothing were destroyed. This intensity of the work of aviation was caused by the growth of confirmed intelligence data on infrastructure facilities, the onset of terrorist groups in certain areas of the theater, the need to reduce the combat potential and undermine the material and technical base of the militants, to disorganize their control system.
For example, in the provinces of Idlib, Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Damascus, Latakia, the Russian Aerospace Forces grouping flew 71 within 24 hours and attacked 118 objects. A command post and a large ammunition depot were destroyed in the area of the settlement of Salma in Latakia Province. The strikes were also made on the hidden bases of the militants, which were previously mothballed or carefully camouflaged, transshipment and strong points, KP. On the outskirts of the settlement of Misrab, in the province of Damascus, the command post with the junction of the terrorist group Jaish al-Islam was destroyed, thereby disrupting the militant control system.
We emphasize: initially there were about 20 sorties per day, but gradually their number increased. During the operation, the tactics also changed. Our pilots went to work alone, attacking several targets for departure. The methodology of their combat work was based on data from space and air reconnaissance, and only after clarifying all the information received from the headquarters of the Syrian army. As a rule, they attacked from a height of more than five thousand meters in order to avoid defeat by portable anti-aircraft missile systems like the Stinger. The airborne aim-navigation equipment of the aircraft made it possible to ensure that terrorists hit any ground targets with high accuracy.
Along with this, the Russian pilots carried out direct support for the advancing Syrian troops, launching combat strikes on their applications, and hampered the supply of terrorist groups and the replenishment of their units by people. As a result, the number of targets to be hit, as well as the ammunition consumption, sharply increased. If earlier Russian planes took two to four precision-guided munitions or four to six conventional ones, by the end of the operation they left for combat missions with multi-lock holders that could carry a bunch of bombs.
The perpetrators did not help
Each departure was preceded by a thorough preparation. The materials of objective control, UAV intelligence, images of space reconnaissance, information of ground intelligence services of Syria and Russia were studied. The free-fall bombs and guided weapons used on the front planes of bomber and assault aircraft made it possible not to enter the zone of destruction of the IG fighters, and therefore to be in a safe zone of combat operations.
17 November 2015 Russia for the first time involved in the Syrian operation the strategic missile carriers Tu-160, Tu-95 MS, and also 12 long-range bombers Tu-22М3. The Tu-160 and Tu-95Ms in total fired more than 30 missiles by IS positions in the provinces of Homs, Aleppo and Rakka. As a result, 14 facilities were destroyed, including the training camp of militants of the IG, the plant for the production of weapons and armored vehicles. The planes worked in groups: one strikes, the other covers it. The 12 long-range Tu-22М3 and Tu-22М3М long-range bombers carried out a massive bombardment of military infrastructure. The strike was done in groups of two Tu-22М3 aircraft using OFAB-12-250 270. As a result, the bases and camps of terrorists in the provinces of Racca and Deir ez-Zor were destroyed.
All this suggests that the main contribution to the implementation of the operational plan for the defeat of the IS was provided by the airborne forces of the airborne forces, which carried out hundreds of sorties and delivered thousands of missile and bomb attacks. Unmanned aircraft constantly provided the necessary intelligence information to the advancing forces of the Syrian and Russian troops. Attack helicopters Ka-52, Mi-28N, Mi-35M, covering the advancing troops, carried out the main work on the "weeding" of the Igilov units from tanks, armored vehicles and pickup trucks, thereby depriving them of firepower and mobility. Su-34 and Su-24M destroyed armored vehicles, enemy columns, fortified areas and command posts, areas of concentration of bandit formations. The Su-35S, Su-30SM, Su-27SM3 fighters prevented “erroneous blows” from the “coalition” of the American coalition survivors behind the black bearded men, covered our strike aircraft, and performed other tasks.
A major role was played by the provision of the Russian grouping with reliable, high-performance, integrated, multi-level air defense systems of the VKS, operating in close cohesion with modern reconnaissance tools, including UAVs of various types. The deployment of the second Russian anti-aircraft missile division C-400 was completed near the Syrian city of Masyaf in the province of Hama, along with the Pantsir-S missile-cannon complex. The position of the C-400 air defense missile system was located on the coastal mountain range and allowed, on the one hand, to provide a significant overview of the radar of the division, and on the other, to compensate for the “shadowing” of the radar field at Hmeimim due to a mountain range.
In general, the aviation group of the VKS completely constrained active military operations of the IG, reliably covered the advancing Syrian and Russian troops.
Serious work performed engineering units. For example, the crossing to the eastern bank of the Euphrates was erected with the help of the Russian military. To this end, new equipment PP-2005 and self-propelled ferry-bridge machines PMM-2М were deployed to Syria by military transport aviation, allowing for fast river crossing. Within two days, a bridge was built with a capacity of eight thousand cars per day.
Immediately after the air strike by the airborne forces of the aerospace forces, the Syrian army, with the support of Russian special forces and aerospace forces, carried out a water barrier near Deir ez-Zor. The advanced units were fixed on the eastern bank of the river. It's for real historical the event will surely go into the textbooks of military art.
In an effort to stop the Syrian army offensive near Deir ez-Zor and violating the truce in the province of Hama, the IG launched hundreds of well-trained Ingimas (from Arabic rushing in), special special forces of the Islamists, their special operations forces. On every such terrorist, the suicide belt, although they undermine themselves only in the case of a completely hopeless situation. And these martyrs are allowed ahead. The task of ingimasi is to win or fall in battle. But nothing helped. As a result, dozens of corpses of militants, burned and captured armored vehicles. And this is despite the fact that jihadists used instructors from the United States, American military equipment, and a closed connection of special services to prepare the operation.
In parallel with the fulfillment of international duty, the Russian “defense industry” and pilots tested the latest weapons in combat work on IG facilities, including after modernization and improvements. The need for this has arisen after the actual use of samples on non-traditional theater for us. From the point of view of causing maximum damage to the IS groups and the so-called opposition, the use of our air-launched and sea-based cruise missiles (KR) in Syria was perfectly justified.
The newest ultra-long-range ALCM X-101 (nuclear variant-X-102) was actively used in Syria in the 2015 – 2016. In the course of several episodes, 48 of such CR has been released. Their main carrier at the time was the Tu-160. Later connected and Tu-95.
One Tu-95 strategic bomber can carry up to eight X-101 on external sling. Up to six such cruise missiles can be placed in its internal turret launcher. July 5 2017-th with two Tu-95MSM, accompanied by a link of multi-purpose fighters Su-30CM with a full combat set of missiles "air-to-air", released five KR X-101 and hit four IG targets.
This experience is invaluable. Even intensive combat training, saturated with exercises and maneuvers, will never replace real participation in local conflicts or limited armed actions.
It is not only a matter of purely military experience, which is a consequence of the current international situation and closely links with it. As the classic said, war is the continuation of politics by other, violent means. Therefore, the most important aspect of the Syrian campaign is that against whom it was conducted initially and continues today.
If the country, on the side of the legitimate government Russia is fighting, came under the control of Sunni radicals (this is not only the Islamic Caliphate, but almost all the “fighters against Assad's tyranny”), then it would instantly turn into a source unparalleled in modern history terrorism, incomparably more dangerous than Afghanistan under the Taliban. For Sunni radicals, external expansion is not just the basis of ideology, but a mode of existence. And Russia would become one of the most important goals, and immediately. If Moscow had not started the Syrian operation two years ago, we would have already fought on our territory or in the so-called soft underbelly of Russia. That is, in fact, the campaign ultimately brought the country a high income in the form of prevented damage.
Taking Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor - the end of the Sunni military resistance on the territory of Syria in the IG format does not mean that it has ceased to exist there. Caliphate is viable in the presence of a number of factors. The main thing is to control the territories in which this organization can form government bodies, create a tax system and a power apparatus, which is a guarantee of security for local Sunnis. The essence is to provide them with the optimal model of socio-economic autonomy and state organization based on sharia in its original form as opposed to the semi-secular monarchies and pseudo-republics in the Arab world, whose regimes are corrupt and unable to provide youth with social elevators.
The main difference between the IG and Al-Qaida is that from the very beginning it was striving for a self-sufficient financing system due to the formation of a quasi-state with the establishment of control over the main sources of income: oil and water resources, irrigation facilities, land and river routes. Al-Qaida, as you know, has always lived off financial trenches from the countries of the Arabian Peninsula.
The IG is a purely nationalist entity that uses, but does not practice, the ideology of building a world caliphate to recruit manpower abroad, without which it cannot exist over large spaces. From 60 to 70, the percentage of IG and Dzhebhat an-Nusra’s personnel was foreigners.
One target - one bomb
The Russian air group created in Syria, consisting only of modern and modernized models of equipment equipped with advanced weapons and aiming-navigation complexes, made it possible to deliver high-precision strikes at gangs throughout the entire territory of the SAR without entering the enemy's MANPADS zone. The widespread use of reconnaissance-strike systems based on reconnaissance, control and communications complexes made it possible to implement the principle “One goal - one rocket (bomb)”.
The superiority of the Russian grouping in reconnaissance assets, electronic warfare, integrated control systems and destruction provided the contactless defeat of the enemy with minimal risk to our troops and forces.
A comparative analysis of the results of the actions of the Russian pilots and aviation of the international coalition in Syria shows that having several times less aircraft, the Russian Aerospace Forces performed three times more sorties and four times more missile and bomb attacks.
The most expressive indicator for evaluating the effectiveness of military pilots is the ratio of the number of combat missions to the number of combat losses incurred. Purely statistically, losses in any combat use of troops are inevitable. But if we consider what happened in this sense with the Russian aviation grouping in Syria, then during the operation, according to official data, more than 28 thousands of sorties were flown and about 99 thousands of strikes against the militants. The losses amounted to three aircraft (Su-24, shot down by the Turkish F-16, crashed Su-33K and MiG-29K wing of the cruiser "Admiral Kuznetsov"), five helicopters.
For comparison: in the nine years of hostilities in Afghanistan, Soviet aviation made almost a million sorties, lost 107 aircraft, 324 helicopters. In other words, with rough rounding for every 100 of thousands of sorties, we lost 10 planes and 30 helicopters. If the same proportion had been maintained in the aviation structure of the VKS in Syria, the loss of aviation would have been two or three aircraft and about 10 helicopters.
According to Colonel-General Viktor Bondarev, at that time, the commander-in-chief of the VKS, well-trained Russian pilots "never missed, never struck schools, hospitals, mosques." In many respects, it is also because the plan of the air operation was carefully thought out and developed taking into account the clear interaction with the Syrian military leadership. In addition, we, again, managed to bring order to the airspace of Syria thanks to the transfer to the country of the C-400.
Russia won a convincing victory over the thousands of terrorist groups that two years ago controlled about 80 percent of the territory of the SAR. And thus it preserved its sovereignty and integrity, took the blow of the black scum from its territory, declared itself as a powerful geostrategic player, whose national interests cannot be ignored.