Military Review

Ambiguous appearance of the Syrian air force

Almost from the very start of the Syrian civil war, various media outlets began to appear about the use of heavy equipment against rebels and aviation. Regardless of truthfulness, these news At one time, they became another reason for criticism and accusations towards the administration of Syrian President B. Assad. A little later, more worthy confirmations appeared that the Syrian military did use combat aircraft and helicopters in their operations, but this use in most cases comes down to the transport function. If attacks are made on the enemy, it is rarely enough due to the characteristic features of the civil war.

At the time of the outbreak of armed conflict, Syrian air forces were among the most numerous in the region. At the same time, the quantity in this case almost does not turn into quality. The newest combat aircraft of the Syrian military aviation is the Soviet / Russian MiG-29 fighter. According to various sources, the total number of such aircraft of all modifications does not exceed 75-80 units. Not so long ago, the Syrian leadership intended to modernize the existing MiG-29, but the implementation of these plans was prevented by the war. As a result, the MiG-21 remains the most popular type of aircraft in the Syrian air force. The total number of these aircraft is estimated at the 140-200 of the sides. Such a large difference in estimates is due to the strict secrecy regime established by the Syrian military leadership. However, even secrecy cannot significantly increase the combat potential of the MiG-21 fighters and bring them to the present level. Because of this, such aircraft are used mainly for reconnaissance. The second largest aircraft of the Syrian Air Force is the MiG-23. There are more than a hundred of them. At the same time there is information about the destruction of at least two such fighter-bombers. One of them was burned at the airport as a result of shelling by insurgents in March of this year, the other was allegedly shot down by them in August. Objective confirmation of the second success of the rebels is not, and is not expected. Finally, the Syrian Air Force has several dozen Su-24 front-line bombers and MiG-25 interceptors. Their total number is insignificant and can hardly have a serious impact on the course of any serious conflict.

The helicopter fleet of the Syrian air force, as can be seen from its composition, is rather adapted to solving transport problems. Most of the helicopters - more than a hundred - are helicopters of the Mi-8 family. The total number of attack helicopters of three models does not exceed 75-80 units. These are Soviet-made Mi-24, French SA-342 and Mi-2 modified accordingly. In addition to helicopters, about twenty seven types of aircraft, mostly Soviet-made, perform transportation functions in the Syrian air force.

As you can see, the numerical indicators of the Syrian Air Force compared to other countries in the region look significant. At the same time, a large number of old equipment does not increase the combat potential of this kind of troops. The main cause of such problems are the economic processes that have taken place in recent decades throughout the Middle East. As of 2009, the total Syrian allocations for the air force accounted for about 3,5% of gross domestic product. For comparison, 25-30 years ago, this part of the budget exceeded the threshold of twenty percent. At the same time, in recent years, the budget for the purchase of new weapons and equipment has increased significantly. In the nineties, the average annual investment in new equipment did not exceed 550-600 million dollars. In recent years, before the civil war, these figures increased to several billion per year. However, in the 2007 year, during the Israeli Orchard operation, the combat potential of the Syrian air force did not allow it to repel the attack of enemy aircraft.

In addition to economic difficulties, the foreign policy situation also hinders the rapid updating of not only the Air Force, but also all the armed forces of Syria. In 2003, Damascus was subjected to international sanctions because of suspicions of cooperation with Iraqi armed forces that emerged after the overthrow of S. Hussein. Even after softening the attitude towards Syria, almost every contract for the supply of weapons and equipment became the subject of a scandal of one size or another. For example, in the 2007 year, shortly after a successful Israeli strike, rumors emerged about the possible purchase by Syria of Russian MiG-31 aircraft in an export configuration. Such interceptors could replace the outdated MiG-25 and significantly improve the ability of the Syrian air force to protect the airspace of their country. However, almost immediately several third countries expressed their concern about such deliveries and doubted the purpose of the aircraft. The lingering disputes around the MiG-31 for Syria went until the end of the spring 2009, when there were reports in the media about the suspension of negotiations due to the financial problems of Damascus. In the end, in October 2010, the management of Rosoboronexport reassured all the “anxious” and officially stated that there was no contract.

Another история, which can be considered an example of difficulties with the renewal of the armed forces, occurred this summer. The most common voyage of the most common cargo ship called Alaed caused a barrage of criticism and almost a scandal. From some sources it became known that three Mi-25 Syrian Air Force helicopters, repaired and upgraded in Russia, are being transported on board the ship. In addition, "popular rumor" attributed to the cargo ship and other military goods: some anti-aircraft missile systems. Despite the specifics of the use of this type of weapon, the hypothetical deliveries of the air defense system also became the object of criticism. Yet over time, that story was forgotten, and supporters of the Syrian rebels switched to other, more relevant topics.

In general, the state of the Syrian Air Force looks ambiguous, and problems with updating the fleet of equipment only add pessimism in the estimates. It is worth noting that even the available forces of the Syrian military pilots are quite capable of solving the tasks that are set for them at the present time. However, only with the continuation of the war with insurgents. If the Syrian war follows the same scenario as the war in Libya, then the Damascus air force is unlikely to be able to seriously respond to threats. Given the “traditional” for the NATO countries method of conducting local wars, it can be assumed that in the case of an international operation against Syria, the main elements of its defense will be air defense forces. It is they who can theoretically fight off air attack. Unfortunately, the Syrian air defense, too, can not cope with the reflection of attacks, but at present the quantitative and qualitative composition of the air force and air defense forces does not allow you to build bold plans.

As a result, the Syrian air forces are in a specific position: they cannot adequately withstand foreign aggression and at the same time have too much impact potential for most of the tasks arising during the civil war. For example, strikes by MiG-23 fighter-bombers, for obvious reasons, are possible only during battles in large open spaces. In turn, urban battles almost completely exclude the use of aviation, with the exception of transport helicopters for the rapid transfer of subunits to the desired area. Thus, to the economic problems of the Syrian air force, tactical questions are also added. Both of these problems are "joint efforts" greatly interfere with both the Air Force and all the armed forces of Syria as a whole.

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  1. mar.tira
    mar.tira 13 November 2012 08: 56
    Another shameful spot on the reputation of Russia. It’s better we will sell them to a potential adversary than to a friend. History beats us, but doesn’t seem to teach!
    1. traveler
      traveler 13 November 2012 09: 06
      Quote: mar.tira
      Another shameful spot on Russia's reputation

      Maybe enough self-flagellation to do? There are opportunities for trade and money from the buyer and there is no problem for the transaction, if one of these conditions is not there can not be a transaction - this is an axiom !!!
      History hits us, but doesn't seem to teach!

      History just demonstrates how we armed many countries with our money and after changing the ruler we got a well-armed, to put it mildly, enemy. Maybe enough to step on the rake?
      A large number of aerial vehicles shot down by the bandits are striking, there are obviously MANPADS "fitted" at the state level and instructors are working
  2. UPStoyan
    UPStoyan 13 November 2012 08: 58
    The economic situation of Syria for 20 years does not allow mass purchase of new equipment and modernization of existing. So the combat readiness is unlikely to exceed 50%.
    1. Lucky
      Lucky 14 November 2012 15: 25
      Yes, I agree with you, the weak aviation of the Syrians ((
  3. JonnyT
    JonnyT 13 November 2012 10: 32
    Syria's planes will be needed in case of war with the Turks or Israel, attack helicopters are needed to fight terrorists! Of course, everything can be razed to the ground, but there’s no sense, there will be many of its own and yes, Assad can’t destroy his country!
  4. fern
    fern 13 November 2012 12: 11
    Or I did not notice, or they did not write about l-39 albatross. And it is very actively used in the ongoing civil war.
    1. VAF
      VAF 13 November 2012 16: 00
      Quote: Farn
      Or I did not notice, or they did not write about l-39 albatross.

      The author has "missed" a lot of .. "mind" ... + wink

      And about the su-17th, so in general ... not a word request

      Well, there are many more films about the use of ... and Gazelles and Iranian transport workers deliver .... "help" bully
  5. Volkhov
    Volkhov 13 November 2012 12: 26
    It is worth noting that the Air Force precisely bombes (on the site there was a video with a broken anti-aircraft gun on Zil - 131 and T - 55, which are covered with 50 kg bombs with a 3m deviation, while the buildings around are not broken), and the air defense accurately shoots - Phantom from the 1st line .
    So they are doing well on their own or with the help of Iran.
  6. Baron Wrangell
    Baron Wrangell 13 November 2012 12: 36
    Yeah! Assad's planes and helicopters are old! Yes, and they apparently can not solve all the problems! There would be more attack aircraft for them and combat helicopters! maybe then something has already changed! Well, Israel or Turkey to fight on such devices is probably better not to start!
  7. semenar
    semenar 13 November 2012 18: 59
    The author is a woodpecker, I forgot about the L-39, which bear the brunt of the "work" on the ground. And the phrase about the Su-24 that will not affect the situation in the furnace. They are not used because they are too powerful a weapon. In the cities from the SU-24 there will be too much destruction. What the Syrians lack is the SU-25. By the way, everyone notes the high training of the Syrian pilots. And the losses are due to the fact that the technique is too old, and it is necessary to decrease.
  8. Speedy
    Speedy 13 November 2012 19: 08
    They fly ... they bomb ... The situation itself (civil war) does not allow to use the entire Arsenal of the Air Force ... Good luck to them in this difficult matter ...
  9. wolverine7778
    wolverine7778 13 November 2012 20: 55
    The helicopter fleet of the Syrian air force, as can be seen from its composition, is rather adapted to solve transport problems.
    Aha, also as bombers)
    1. orfo
      orfo 13 November 2012 21: 28
      not frail firecracker
  10. cth; fyn
    cth; fyn 14 November 2012 07: 19
    if they use aircraft as mediocre as tanks, then they will lose it after a week of war with a real enemy (I recently watched the T-72 troop get ambushed, it seems that they were driven by tractor drivers).
    1. orfo
      orfo 17 November 2012 02: 48
      what kind of view they saw from the tank, it’s an ambush ... I also saw it, several hits arrived at once, it seems that they should understand that they set fire to the neighbor but somehow barely barely move. It’s very sad to watch as bearded people burn equipment, most often from under cover. In my opinion, because of this, our people in Chechnya changed their tactics so that they wouldn’t burn all the equipment, but in open areas the infantry without armor is also not ice.

      ps in another video from the same youtube, the tankman managed to unscrew from a wrecked tank and quickly ran away to his own, in the same place they burned a second one. ... from RPG they have nowhere to go, they are just a scribe.
    2. berserk1967
      berserk1967 18 November 2012 03: 20
      You better remember how much our army lost tanks in the cities of Chechnya. Tanks are generally not designed for warfare in cities, for this they at least need powerful infantry support.
  11. vladimirZ
    vladimirZ 14 November 2012 12: 37
    The Syrian fleet, probably already after the Serdyukov reforms, exceeds the Russian one, I think so.
    You look in Russia where the former military airfield is destroyed, in another place.
    Recently, I rode on a train with a soldier, where I myself served as an airplane technician in the 70s, in Borz. I ask him know the Chindant airfield. I know the answers. In concrete caponiers, there are now vehicles standing there, taxiing and the runway are abandoned, all buildings are destroyed, the air town is destroyed.
    And in our time, 2 aviation regiments stood.
  12. Dnepropetrovsk
    Dnepropetrovsk 22 November 2012 00: 09
    I liked it more (I cannot get around this from the text of the article) that several third countries at once expressed their concern about such supplies and doubted the purpose of the aircraft. This refers to MIG 31 for Syria, and so here are a few countries that have expressed concern and the supply has been stopped, how can this be.