The day after Russia ‘officially’ started combat mission over Syria, the first clear images of the various fighter aircraft at Latakia airbase have started to appear. Most notable thing on those images: the Russian identification markings on the Sukhois have disappeared, including the Russian red start and the aircraft’s serial numbers.
Russian Air Force Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” ground attack aircraft, Su-24 “Fencer” bombers, Su-30 Flanker multi-role fighters and Su-34 Fullback bombers started arriving in Syria over a week ago. Mil Mi-24 and/or Mi-35 Hinds attack helos are also present, as well as Mi-17 Hip assault helicpters.
The military aircraft started operations this week, with Western watchers wondering what targets exactly the Russians are aiming at. Despite Moscow claiming to fight ISIS, the 28 to 34 aircraft Russia has moved to Syria apparently also target other groups opposing the current Assad government. Reports have come in of bombing in areas that Western intelligence services claim have no ISIS activity whatsoever.
The short term ‘good’ thing about it for Western nations and their allies is that Russian aircraft seem to concentrate their bombings in the western parts of Syria, where there is less activity by the many fighter jets of the US-led Operations Inherent Resolve that engage ISIS forces further away from the Syrian coast and the capital Damascus.
The removal of markings could very well be to help deniability when one of the planes get shot down – ironically a very real possibility given the large umber of Russia-supplied air defense weapons in the area, not to mention Western aircraft flying around also.
The Russians are known to remove nationality markings in sensitive surroundings, like earlier in Eastern Ukraine. And ‘sensitive’ surely describes the current situation in and over Syria.
Pakistan buys four Russian Helicopters (Mil) Mi-35M (“Hind”) attack helicopters, the Russian Embassy in Islamabad announced on Thursday 20 August 2015. It could mark a ground-breaking sale ebbing the way for more Hinds or other Russian made armed rotary wing.
The Pakistan Army will feature an interesting mix of American, French, Chinese and Russian made attack helicopters. Islamabad was already looking forward to boosts its possibilities to combat armed groups in the west of the country and now might have found a solution in the thoroughly tested and battle proved Hind – as the popular NATO-reporting name for both the older Mi-24 and its new export version Mi-35 goes.
Currently the Pakistan Army attack helicopter fleet consists of 51 aging Bell AH-1F/S Cobras delivered between 1984 and 2013 (8 ex-Jordanian machines). From China up to CAIC Z-10 (WZ-10) attack helicopters have been ordered, with the fleet strength planned to reach 5 machines by the end of 2015. Moreover 10 Airbus Helicopters AS550 C3 Fennec armed scout helicopters have been bought in France, but the current state of that delivery is unknown to us at this time.
The final of three Mil Mi-35 delivered by Russia in November to the Brazilian Air Force has been declared officially operational on 9 February.
The 2nd Squadron (Poti) started flying the AH-2 Sabre, as it is called locally, from Porto Velho Airbase in the skies over the Western Amazon region. The unit now has all 12 attack helicopters at its disposal for tasks that vary from air defence, to attack, escort, suppression of enemy air defence, armed reconnaissance and close air support.
It took a while to reassemble the final three. They came in parts on board an Antonov An-124 on 26 November 2014. The work to get them up and running was done by a combined Russian-Brazilian technical / maintenance team.
The Czech Air Force keeps its active combat fleet on 56 aircraft in 2015, the Czech Ministry of Defence acknowledged.
Spearhead of the force are 14 SAAB JAS 39C/D Gripen multi-role fighters, supported by 25 indigenous-developed Vodochody L-159 ALCAs. This brings the total fixed-wing combat aircraft fleet to 39. Closer to the ground 17 Mil Mi-24 and Mi-35 Hind attack helicopters provide a key function on the battlefield, giving the Czech a strenght of 56 aircraft.
Besides the combat aircraft the Czech Air Force in 2015 keeps 9 L-39 advanced training aircraft, 17 transport and observation aircraft (L-410, Yak-40, CL-601 Challenger, A319CJ, CASA/Airbus C295M), plus 35 unarmed transport helicopters (Mi-8, Mi-17 / Mi-171S, W-3A Sokol).
Source: Ministerstvo Obrany České Republiky (MOCR)
With the delivery of the final three Mil Mi-35M (Hind-E) by Antonov AN-124 Ruslan at Porto Velho Air Base on 26 November, the Brazilian Air Force attack helicopter fleet has been completed, the country’s Ministry of Defence announced at the end of last week.
The 2nd Squadron (Poti) now has all its 12 AH-2 Sabre helicopters – as the type is called in Brazilian service – on strength. The first arrived already in 2009. The choppers tasks are a variety of missions, that will include air defence, attack, escort, suppression of enemy air defence, armed reconnaissance and close air support.
The Sabres are armed with 30 mm cannons and will carry a choice between Ataka-M anti-tank missiles, S-8 (80 mm) rockets or free-fall bombs into combat if necessary. The chopper was one of the stars at the Cruzex Crusade last year.