The long-range aviation aircraft of the VKS of Russia struck the first blows at the positions of the Islamic State militants in Syria 18 in November in response to the terrorist attack aboard the Kogalymavia A321 passenger airliner that killed 224 people.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu reported to Vladimir Putin: “Today, from 5.00 to 5.30 Moscow time 12, long-range Tu-22MZ bombers struck targets of the ISIL terrorist organization in the provinces of Raqca and Dair Al-Zor. From 9.00 to 9.40, the strategic missile carriers Tu-160 and Tu-95MS launched 34 air-launched cruise missiles against militant targets in the provinces of Aleppo and Idlib. ”
According to reports, in addition to the mentioned twelve Tu-22М3 long-range bombers, six more strategic missile-carrying Tu-95MS and five Tu-160 took part in the first strike.
Despite the fact that, to date, Russian officials have not reported the cessation of Retaliation, in fact, shortly before the death of the Su-24М front bomber shot down by the Turkish F-16 fighter, Russian strategic and long-range bombers stopped appearing in the sky over Syria.
According to the newspaper Military Industrial Courier, the planning for the use of long-range aviation for strikes against ISIL began long before Operation Retribution announced by the Russian president. In particular, the necessary documents, as well as various calculations were not only ready, but also communicated to the commanders of aviation units before the start of the first air strikes of the Russian Aerospace Forces from Khmeimim airfield. The strategic Tu-95MS and Tu-160 strategic air refueling systems were to operate directly from the Engels airbase in the Saratov region, where they are based, and for Tu-22М3 unable to receive fuel during the flight, it was planned to relocate to Mozdok airfield, where material and technical equipment and ammunition were stored in advance for them.
There are data on the conduct of the exercises of the Il-78 tanker aircraft, which are part of long-range aviation, when not only the simultaneous refueling of several vehicles in the air, but also the possible actions of crews and operators of air tankers at night were worked out.
Sharp questions of the use of long-range and strategic bombers remained as their routes (which is especially important for the Tu-22М3), and possible schemes for the passage of cruise missiles. The routes passed through the territory of Iran and were to be coordinated with the military-political leadership of this country.
According to the Military-Industrial Courier, Tehran not only quickly delivered a principle good, but also allowed launches of air-launched cruise missiles from its territory, although the Russian command primarily considered the waters of the Caspian Sea for these purposes.
It is not quite clear why for almost a month and a half the DA bombers of the Russian Aerospace Forces did not strike the militants in Syria, although everything was ready for that. It is possible that the military-political leadership planned to use expensive aviation complexes and modern high-precision cruise missiles against the facilities of the mining complex, which are under the control of the militants of the Islamic State banned in Russia.
In the course of the airstrikes that began on November 12, the oil sector of the militants really became the main target of the Russian bombers, but the militants ’command posts, their positions, ammunition stores, etc., also hit the target list for the Tu-18 and Tu-22MS bombs. P.
Means of destruction and targets
Long-range bombers Tu-22М3 acted primarily against the so-called area targets. In particular, official video records with the results of the defeat of IG objects by the Russian Aerospace Forces aircraft seen by the Ministry of Defense show how “Backfires” bombed the oil refinery with a volley bomb.
The Tu-22М3 ammunition on each sortie consisted of twelve OFAB 250-270 conventional free-fall high-explosive bombs, which, according to some experts, looks somewhat archaic. But as the officer of the HKS of Russia explained to the Military Industrial Courier, “Backfires” were recruited for action in Syria, during which specialized computing subsystems SVP-24-22 developed by Hefest and T were installed on them. The work was somewhat complicated by the high flight weight of the “Backfires”, caused by the large amount of fuel required for the return flight to Mozdok without refueling. Tu-22М3 were forced to carry out bombing from direct flight without performing maneuvers that increase the accuracy of strikes.
However, according to the interlocutor of the "MIC" from the Russian Aerospace Forces, the accuracy of the hit corresponded to the declared characteristics, and minor deviations were compensated for by the number of aviation weapons and their power.
Judging by the video recordings “from the other side”, which recorded both the bomb strikes themselves and their results, OFAB, of course, did not become highly accurate. weapons, but we can agree with the representative of the Russian Aerospace Forces of Russia: the accuracy of long-range bombers' volley, especially for area targets, has increased many times. And if in August 2008 of the year Tu-22М3, dropping tons of bombs, could not paralyze the work of the Georgian airfield Kopitnari, now one or two “Backfires” easily cope with such goals as oil refineries.
According to preliminary data, the Tu-22М3 carried out about 100 combat missions and dropped at least ISNL 1100 bombs on ISIL militants.
Retaliation attacks were the debut of the newest X-101 cruise missiles adopted by the Russian VKS several years ago. Before 18 in November of this year, some experts stated that the “one hundred and first” is still being tested and it is not known when they will add to the arsenal of the Russian Aerospace Forces. As it became known to the “Military Industrial Courier”, the latest ALCMs are actively being delivered to long-range aviation bases, in addition, work is underway on the possible redirection of the missile in the air after launch.
True, the X-101 debut was somewhat overshadowed by videotapes and photographs, where one can clearly see how one of the missiles falls to the ground, while it is not clear whether the equipment failed or the ALCM still managed to hit the target.
According to one of the versions, the latest missiles are equipped with certain detachable maneuvering warheads designed to overcome modern air defense systems. However, none of the interlocutors of the newspaper “Military-Industrial Courier” who are familiar with the situation, did not confirm, although he did not deny the existence of such blocks on X-101. According to a VKS specialist of Russia who is familiar with modern Russian TSA, combat units can be installed on cruise missiles, after which the missile continues to fly.
A total of Tu-160 bombers, which carried out at least 12 sorties, launched around the newest cruise missiles 50.
The weapons of honored veterans - strategic missile-carriers Tu-95MS were developed on the basis of X-55 ALCM X-555, put into service in the middle of 2000-s. It is believed that the "five hundred and fifty-fifth" is only a non-nuclear version of the old X-55. But according to the representative of the VKS of Russia, the new rocket is distinguished not only by a conventional warhead, but also by a slightly increased flight range, as well as a high-precision guidance system. In addition, the rocket design itself has undergone significant changes.
It should be noted that the X-555 launched and more modern Tu-160. According to reports, during the four flights, Black Jacks fired at least five hundred fifty-five 15.
Yet the big question remains the reliability of the Russian air-launched cruise missiles, both the newest X-101 and the older X-555. According to one of the interlocutors, despite the presence of some technical problems, everything went smoothly.
Routes and launch areas
Official representatives of the Ministry of Defense of Russia in their speeches about the progress of Operation Retribution in every possible way evaded the question of which regions cruise missiles were launched from. The analysis of official photos and videos provided by the military, clearly indicates that the launches were carried out from the territory of Iran. In particular, the F-14 and F-4 of the Iranian Air Force escorted F-XNUMX and F-XNUMX during the sorties of the Russian "strategists".
The Russian command on the first day of retaliation to escort the Tu-160 and Tu-22М3 involved the Su-27СМ3 fighters, as well as four Su-30CM fighters from the special-purpose aviation brigade based at Hamim airfield. Later, only the Backfires went with the escort, most likely due to the fact that they were the only ones directly entering the airspace of Syria.
Quite unexpected was the combat mission of the Tu-160 from the Olenya airfield in the Murmansk region, during which strategic missile carriers did not pass over the territory of the Russian Federation, but actually rounded Europe from the western part, flying, in particular, near England.
Refueling in the air, including at night, has become an indispensable element of long-range combat sorties. According to some data, at night, the work of the operators of the Il-78 aircraft, responsible for the docking of the refueling hose with refueled aircraft, was sometimes complicated by powerful headlights installed on the Tu-160 receiving device and designed to facilitate the work of the bomber crew when docked with the air tanker.
According to our information, the intensity of work during retaliation (several dozen sorties) is one of the highest since the beginning of 90's. True, it should be noted that the Il-78 transferred fuel not only to long-range aircraft and fighters accompanying them, but also Su-34, which had been used as reinforcement from the territory of Russia, which had been used as reinforcement for the front bomber.
The experience of “Retribution”, as one of the interlocutors of “MIC” said, showed that the Russian Aerospace Forces have a great need for long-range refueling aircraft with high fuel capacity, which are currently being rebuilt in Voronezh VASO from Il-96. The expert also expressed the opinion that now such vehicles are even more necessary than the IL-78М-90 tanker, created on the basis of the military transport IL-76MD-90.
Russian long-range aviation demonstrated not only high combat readiness, but also excellent professional skills. Moreover, despite recent skepticism, the Russian strategic rocket carriers acquired the latest ammunition, and long-range bombers are now capable of hitting targets with uncontrolled free-fall bombs with fairly high accuracy. The fleet of aircraft-tankers copes with the tasks and provides actions not only YES, but also front-line aviation at long ranges.
Russian bombers and missile carriers made about a hundred sorties, spent tons of bombs and dozens of cruise missiles. The ISIS oil infrastructure suffered considerable damage. At the same time, according to videos provided by the Russian Defense Ministry, the work of long-range aviation can only be partially presented, so many questions about the actions of Russian bombers in the skies of Syria are still open.