In what could be at best another propaganda foil or at worst a change in strategy in Syria, Russia reportedly has send its most advanced air defense aircraft to Syria. Four Su-35 Flanker-E fighter jets are said to have joined Russian Air Force aircraft in Syria. It would mark the first time Russia sends this jet abroad.
Independent confirmation of the four fighter jets’ actual arrival is still needed. Pictures of the Flankers flying at altitude appeared on social media on Sunday, as the jets were said to be making their way to Syria. In truth, the pictures could have been snapped anytime.
If the jets actually are in Syria, it means Russia is beefing up it air-to-air capability in the area. The apparent move comes just as Turkey warned Moscow about another Russian jet moving into Turkish airspace while operating over Syria. In November, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24 for that reason. Relations between Ankara and Moscow have since been tense.
By sending the Flankers, Russia is not seeking to improve relations any time soon. Things will probably get even more tense. The Russian jets could be used for escorting Su-24s, Su-30 and Su-34s during bombing missions. Those types are already operating in Syria.
However, the move could also just mean an operational test for the Russians. The wargames over Syria have given the Russian Air Force the opportunity to test its latest equipment and newest tactics. The Su-35 so far was not part of the weapons arsenal used. In fact, the type has never been used in anger before.
© 2016 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The Su-35 Flanker E. (Image © UAC Russia)