October 14 of this year, the Russian Air and Space Forces celebrated a kind of anniversary - two weeks from the start of the air campaign in Syria against the militants of the "Islamic State". It can already be stated that, in terms of the number of completed sorties, officially destroyed targets, as well as used aviation weapons, the current actions of the VCS in the Middle East overlap with similar indicators of the war with Georgia in August 2008.
Over the past two weeks, the excitement that has arisen in the media in the early days of the air campaign has already subsided, the work of the Russian aviation began to be more of a planned character, therefore you can sum up the first results.
Forces and means
At the time of the bombing, the Russian group, based at the Khmeimim airbase (Basil Assad airport in the Syrian province of Latakia), consisted of twelve Su-24M front-line bombers, the same Su-25 attack aircraft, and six Su-34 front panel bombers of the SAM-30 HR aH-XNUMX axes and aerial attack aircraft of the Su-XNUMX, six of the I-XNUMX bombers, and six Su-XNUMX bombers, as well as six I-XNUMX bombers. Su-XNUMXCM fighters.
At the same time, the reports in the Russian mass media referring to the press service of the Ministry of Defense about the transfer to Suria of an additional number of Su-30CM are erroneous. As of October 16, only four newest fighters with a variable thrust vector operated in Latakia.
Most likely, the fleet of Su-24M front-line bombers in Syria consists of two models - Su-24М2 and Su-24М with specialized computing subsystems SVP-24, developed and produced by Gefest and T, installed on board.
It should be noted that visually both versions of the Su-24M do not differ from each other and it is not possible to accurately distinguish which of them are M2 and which are not. But nevertheless, it can be assumed that there are still more sides with the SVP-24 installed on them.
SVP provides high accuracy of using conventional free-fall bombs (according to some data, at a distance of 20 kilometers the FAB deviation from the target when using SVP-24 is about a meter), therefore, the machines equipped with it are most likely used for striking small and well-protected fixed targets.
At the same time, Su-24М2 are attracted to strike at a cluster of armored vehicles and enemy manpower, artillery positions - those targets where low accuracy can be compensated for with power and the number of aviation weapons in the salvo.
The fleet of Su-25 attack aircraft based on the Khmeimim airbase also consists of several modifications of the machines — both the Su-25CM tested in combat work, previously used during the August 2008 fighting in Georgia, and the more 25CM3.
It should be noted that the attack aircraft of the СМ3 modification, on which the modern optical laser-television system (SALT-25) is installed, are most likely attracted to attack headquarters, ammunition depots and control points both during the day and at night. A more simple Su-25SM work on enemy infantry, equipment and artillery.
It is noteworthy that of the twelve attack aircraft, two are combat training Su-25UB ("Sparky"), which, judging by the video chronicles, are actively involved in combat work. It can be assumed that these machines were also upgraded, within which a computing subsystem of SVPs adapted for use on the Su-25 was installed on them, which should radically increase their combat capabilities.
So, the main work in Syria is performed primarily by front-line bombers Su-24 and attack aircraft Su-25 - they account for at least 70 – 80 percent of all combat missions. At the same time, more modern Su-34s are used much less frequently, since they primarily carry out the tasks of striking high-precision aviation weapons (corrected by GLONASS bombs KAB-500С) on particularly important and so-called difficult targets.
The Su-30CM fighters, which most likely cover only strike machines operating in the north of Syria, closer to the border with Turkey, as well as in those regions where it is possible to meet with NATO aircraft and, in particular, are not very intense. USA In addition to accompanying the Su-30CM impact machines, it is possible that they are on duty in specified areas.
Do goals end?
As of October 16 this year, the Russian group has completed more than 500 sorties (according to various estimates, from 508 to 520) and hit more than 490 targets. If we conduct a detailed analysis, the work of Su-25 attack aircraft and Su-24M front-line bombers can be determined on 300 – 450 sorties.
Given the number of Su-30CM fighters, as well as the tasks that they performed, there are no more than 30 sorties on their account, and perhaps fewer. Whereas the newest Su-34 took off from 40 to 50 times.
It should be noted that the intensity of the combat work of the Russian aviation over the past two weeks was very different. If in the first days, even taking into account night strikes, the Aerospace Forces group carried out a little more than 20 departures per day (the exception is October 7, then the VCS reported on 32 departures) with the aim of striking previously identified targets, then with October 9 intensity the work immediately tripled - on this day Russian planes from Khmeimim flew 67 once. At the same time, enemy artillery positions, armored vehicles and other enemy targets located practically on the front lines began to appear in the lists of targets.
On the same days, video clips filmed by the Syrian opposition appeared. They recorded strikes on her defensive positions allegedly Russian Su-25 in the interests of supporting the attack of government troops. It is noteworthy that the attack aircraft used unguided aircraft missiles to perform this task.
Over the past two weeks, the record remains October 13. On this day, 88 sorties were flown. But already on October 14, the intensity of combat work has noticeably decreased, since, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, the militants who began to retreat, abandon their positions and the number of possible targets for the Russian Aerospace Forces grouping has significantly decreased.
If we calculate the average number of sorties made from September 30 to October 16, then on average 34 of the Aerospace Forces aircraft of Russia carried out 35 – 37 sorties per day.
Since the start of air strikes in Syria, the Russian group has changed not only indicators of the intensity of combat work, but also priorities in the choice of targets.
Since September 30, the main strikes of the Russian Aerospace Forces have been carried out according to official data on control centers, warehouses and training camps for militants. But already on October 4, the first cases of defeat of an accumulation of enemy automobile and armored vehicles were recorded. On October 6, the Russian military said that militants began to hide their Tanks and other equipment near residential buildings and mosques, in confirmation of which a video was recorded from the board of an unmanned aerial vehicle.
From October 7, militant positions fortified became increasingly featured on the list of targets hit by Russian planes, which became the main targets for defeat until October 14, when, according to the Defense Ministry, the militants began to retreat. As of October 16, the Aerospace Force reoriented again to strikes at warehouses, camps and command and control centers.
Despite the fact that the official representatives of the Russian Defense Ministry in their speeches strongly emphasize the use of high-precision airborne forces in Syria weapons, judging by the videos and photos from the scene, while the main weapon remains free-fall high-explosive aerial bombs FAB-250 and FAB-500.
This choice is easy to explain. Using SVP-24 and SALT-25, Russian aviation can strike free-falling ammunition with high accuracy, which is even lower than that of controlled TSA, but this is compensated by the power of the ammunition themselves, as well as their number in one series.
Undoubtedly, the issue of price also affects, when several FABs dropped are much cheaper than a single adjusted ammunition.
However, such a calculation is not always justified. In particular, the video presented by the Russian Defense Ministry 30 on September and fixing the bombing of the militants command post located in the building clearly shows that a series of bombs fall a long distance from the object and only one FAB fell in the immediate vicinity (judging by the video, 50 – 70 meters). Although we must pay tribute - one bomb was enough to damage the target.
But there are also positive moments, in particular, the video of the strike on the training camp in Idlib 12 of October, where it is clearly seen that the bombs not only fall quite accurately, but also lay down so that they cover almost the entire target. And on the video, filmed directly by Syrian militants, it is clearly seen that the FAB bombs not only accurately hit the headquarters, but also completely destroyed it.
Of the highly accurate TSA tools, the use of GLBASS-corrected bombs by KAB-500S Su-34 bombers (according to official data on warehouses and control points), as well as X-25ML missiles with a semi-active Su-24M homing head, which are most likely, used to defeat the positions of militants, equipment and artillery directly on the battlefield.
If there is no open access to the X-29 video chronicles, then the Russian military department has enough videos with the KAB-500 hits. It should be noted here that a bomb adjusted with the help of a satellite navigation system does not always exactly hit the target. In particular, the Su-34 strike video on the militants control point, located in the former prison building in Idlib province 9 of October, clearly shows that the first break of KAB-500 lies relatively far from the target and does not cause special damage to the building with powerful walls.
It should be noted that such blunders are the exception rather than the rule, and corrected by GLONASS TSA hit the target with a sufficiently high accuracy.
Russian aircraft are actively using one-time bomb cassettes (RBC) to destroy armored vehicles and Syrian militants, although the Defense Ministry has so far presented only one video using these munitions on enemy positions located in mountainous and wooded areas.
Also quite exotic means of aviation destruction were used - concrete-bombs and anti-tank ammunition with self-homing. And if the blow BETAB-500 on some of the "engineering positions" of the enemy, inflicted on 10 of October, judging by the video presented, was a complete success, then questions remain about the effectiveness of anti-tank ammunition.
In particular, the video, laid out by Syrian militants, shows that even if the ammunition explodes in the air, the targets are not noticeable, some of the non-triggered self-targeting combat elements lie on the ground. So far, it is reliably known about only one application of RBC-500 with the October 7 SE.
Separately, it is necessary to dwell on the P-27 air-to-air missiles, with which the Su-30CM fighters took off for combat missions. Despite the fact that these missiles can be called obsolete, they have an undeniable advantage - there are quite a lot of them in warehouses.
Each aviation weapon has a limit on the number of landings performed with it: after all, not only the aircraft, but also the TSA itself experiences both overloads and a heavy blow when it touches the ground. According to some data, for many modern air-to-air missiles, especially for medium-range missiles, this figure is equal to the number one. That is, after the first landing, the rocket must be removed and sent for inspection and repair.
Therefore, the use of Su-30 older, but available in sufficient quantities in warehouses P-27, of course, justified. Especially when militants do not have aircraft, and in the case of NATO and US aircraft, the presence of such missiles is more of a precautionary measure. Although it is possible that more modern medium-range air-to-air missiles, recently received by the troops, were also delivered to Khmeimim for combat work.
Calculating the result
To sum up the two weeks of combat work, it should be noted that the grouping of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria solved quite diverse tasks, ranging from hitting the enemy’s infrastructure and ending with direct support of the troops.
In particular, the peak of the sorties fell on the offensive that had begun on the positions of the militants of the Syrian 4-th assault corps, which had recently ended with the capture of several villages. At the same time, the recent decrease in the intensity of combat work indicates that preparations are under way for a new offensive. It is possible that this break is used by the VKS of Russia for the repair of aviation equipment and airport infrastructure.
But one should not idealize the intensity of the combat work of the Russian aviation: the number of sorties per day, which we now see, speaks of normal combat work in accordance with all standards and regulatory documents.
Despite the use of high-precision ASPs, which are not always effective, the main weapons of aviation are the usual free-fall aerial bombs, and the workhorses of the VKS in Syria are modernized, but still Su-25 and Su-24. Let's pay tribute, more modern Su-34 also actively participate in combat missions.
Judging by the videos presented by the militants, the effectiveness of Russian aviation is quite good and the enemy suffers losses. But nevertheless, the Russian air campaign in Syria is not a sprint, but rather a marathon, therefore, it will be possible to judge the real achievements only in two or three months.