Today, September 30, Russia officially entered the war with the “Islamic State” (ISIS is a terrorist organization banned on the territory of the Russian Federation.): The Federation Council unanimously supported the proposal of Russian President Vladimir Putin on the possibility of using the Armed Forces abroad. And on the same day, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced the first airstrikes on ISIS positions in Syria. I must say that this did not come as a surprise - rumors, photos and videos about the relocation of a sufficiently large number of military aviation, equipment and personnel in Syria, at the air base near Latakia and in Tartus, appeared already more than 2 weeks ago. The number and types of military aircraft were not officially disclosed, but now they can be fairly accurately estimated, as well as analyze the capabilities of such a group.
Su-30CM and Su-34 - the face of modern Russian aerospace forces
One of the first in Syria to "light up" the Russian multi-purpose fighters Su-30CM, which in the number of 4 units hit the satellite images, laid out in the Western media. Later, 29 of September, images of the Su-34 front-line bomber over Syria, as well as information about 6 of such vehicles arrived in Latakia, got online. Both machines are united by the fact that they are created on the platform of the Su-27 fighter - one of the most successful in the modern global aircraft industry. Su-30SM is a two-seater version of the Su-27, with fully updated electronic equipment, installation of engines with a deflected thrust vector (this increases the maneuverability of the aircraft, and also makes it manageable at near-zero speeds) and the possibility of using a wide range of Russian aviation weapons - high-precision weapons (adjustable bombs, air-to-surface missiles), air-to-air missiles, etc. The Su-34 differs from the Su-30CM for greater “groundiness” for striking the ground, although it can also fight against air targets. Both cars are currently the face of the Russian VKS, as the PAK FA 5 generation fighter is undergoing tests. Single Su-35С to Syria have not yet arrived - this is probably due to the fact that double cars can be used more effectively for ground targets. With sufficiently effective reconnaissance and target designation, both aircraft can strike from heights more than 3 − 4 km, which in fact makes them invulnerable in the sky over Syria, since no serious air defense systems other than man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), from ISIL and others no terrorist groups. For both planes, the upcoming operation is a serious test, it is very important not to “lose face”.
Su-25CM and Su-24М2 - upgraded veterans
In addition to the above Su-30CM and Su-34, 12 attack aircraft Su-25 and the same front-line bombers Su-24 appeared on satellite images. Considering that most of these machines have been upgraded to Su-25CM and Su-24М2 versions, it is logical to assume that they flew to Latakia.
Su-25 attack aircraft, nicknamed “the rooks”, are the workhorse of the Russian VKS - an inexpensive, simple and very reliable machine (good booking has repeatedly allowed the machines to return after being hit by them from MANPADS). In the updated version, they can carry many types of guided and unguided rocket weapons, bombs, etc.
The Su-24М2 front-line bombers, after modernization, were able to use the same range of air-to-surface weapons as the modern Su-34. Nevertheless, the car is quite old and known for its complexity in the management, and as a result - a great accident rate.
In addition to the listed aircraft, there are some Mi-24 attack helicopters at the Latakia air base. This car to modern is difficult to attribute, but it has proven to be a reliable weapon.
Any loss is a disaster
During the implementation of aviation support to Syrian government troops, it is very important to prevent the loss of aviation and capture of Russian pilots, as their fate will be very sad. The loss of the Su-30CM and Su-34 is very unlikely, since the machines operate from high altitudes. The same applies to the Su-24М2, if technical reasons do not intervene. The most risky use of attack aircraft Su-25, and, in particular, the Mi-24 helicopters. If the former can also, in good weather, which is not uncommon in Syria, strike from a height of more than 3km, then the helicopters are vulnerable in any case, which requires tremendous caution when using them.
There is no "hat
The Russian VKS did not even have time to make 10 sorties, as already enthusiastic cries are heard everywhere about how we will destroy ISIS on “one-two”. First, we do not have exhaustive information about the number and real targets, which were also used by the United States Air Force. If they really bombed ISIS troops, then the effectiveness of these attacks was very low. In this case, given the high level of the US Air Force, our strikes will also be able to change very little. If we really see a dramatic success with the land forces opposing the LIH - the Kurdish forces, the government forces of Syria and Iraq, then this will be evidence that the “Western partners” were imitating the struggle. In any case, more than one week will pass before we can really begin to evaluate the results of the military operation launched today. A key factor in the effectiveness of the operation will be a satisfactory level of intelligence (which is very difficult, given the mobility and dispersion of ISIS forces) and coordination with ground forces of Bashar al-Assad, which, ultimately, must beat the battered forces of the militants from their occupied territories. So far, the reason for optimism is the fact that Russian troops show the ability to very quickly deploy large enough forces in remote parts of the world: within a couple of weeks, an air base was created from scratch with at least 34 combat aircraft.