Tag Archives: Su-34

Russia: long-range bombers at War in Syria

UPDATED 20 November | For the first time the Russian strategic bomber fleet has been waging war in modern combat, launching long-range air strikes against targets / areas in Syria last night.

UPDATE | More footage has appeared of Russian bombers launching cruise missiles or dropping bombs, some of them under the watchful eye of -rather surprisingly – Iranian F-14 Tomcats. See here.

According to the Russian Ministry of Defence the attack fleet last night included 5 Tupolev Tu-160 “Blackjack”, 6 Tu-95MS “Bear”, 14 Tupolev Tu-22M3s “Backfire, 8 Sukhoi Su-34 “Fullback” and 4 Sukhoi Su-27SM “Flanker” all flying in from land-bases in Russia with flights lasting 4 hours and several thousands of miles. With at least the fighter aircraft probably supported by IL-78 “Midas” tanker aircraft.

Cruise missiles

Sources in Western capitals have acknowledged their governments were informed far ahead of the Russian operations this time, which included the launch of 34 cruise missiles. The attacks were concentrated on the Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor areas, as well as Aleppo and Idlib. The Russian planned 127 sorties against 206 targets, with 82 sorties against 140 objectives done. Syrian troops are said to have started a ground offensive about 15 to 25 miles from Idlib.

Latakia Airbase

Part of the Russian Expeditionary Wing based at an Syrian military airbase near Latakia (Khmeymim) also went airborne. The wing now consists of eight fighter-bombers (4 Sukhoi Su-30SMs, 4 Sukhoi Su-34s), 12 strike/bombers of the Sukhoi Su-24M “Fencer” type, 12 close-air support and attack aircraft of the Sukhoi Su-25SM “Frogfoot” type, a dozen Mil Mi-24 “Hind” attack helicopters and 4 Mil Mi-8 “Hip” assault helicopters.

A Tupolev Tu-95 bomber of the Russian Air Force (Image © RAF)
A Tupolev Tu-95 bomber of the Russian Air Force (Image © RAF)
A Tupolev Tu-22M3 of the type that simulated attack on Sweden during Eastern 2013 (Image © Max)
A Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire, an aircraft similar to the western Rockwell B-1B bomber. (Image © Max)
A hyper-modern Russian Su-34 photographed by a RNoAF F-16 crew on an much published intercept in October 2014 (Image © Forsvaret)
A hyper-modern Russian Su-34 photographed by a RNoAF F-16 crew on an much published intercept in October 2014 (Image © Forsvaret)
Archive photo of a Russian Air Force Su-27SM3 performing at the Zhukovsky airshow in August 2012 (Image (CC) Alan Wilson)
Archive photo of a Russian Air Force Su-27SM3 performing at the Zhukovsky airshow in August 2012 (Image (CC) Alan Wilson)

25 extra long-range aircraft

Moscow plans to augment the wing for now with 25 extra long-range aircraft (likely bombers and tanker aircraft), eight Su-34s and four Su-27SMs all operating from land-bases within the Russian Federation on lengthy strike missions to Syria against forces such as ISIL/Daesh.

French warcraft

Apart from Russia, French warcraft bombed targets they say are from ISIL/Daesh as well during the same night in Northern Syria, in what could may have been jointly co-ordinated attacks. France is stepping up its military operations in the area after ISIL has claimed responsibility of the terror attacks in Paris during the weekend. The attacks claimed the lives of at least 129 people. The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle – with on board Rafale multi-role fighters – is steaming towards the Eastern Mediterranean.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image (top): The Tu-160 (Image © Tupolev)

‘Anonymous’ Russian Sukhois fly in Syria

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.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest and Marcel Burger
Featured image: The Su-34 bomber from the October 2014 batch (Image © Sukhoi Company)

RAF Typhoons meet a flock of Russians

Four Su-34 Fullbacks, four MiG-31 Foxhounds and two An-26 Curls. That’s was the score in a single Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) last week for Royal Air Force (RAF) Eurofighter Typhoons participating in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission over the Baltics. The Typhoons operated from Estonia to where they are deployed from homebase of RAF Lossiemouth in the UK.

The Typhoons met the Russian armada in international airspace over the Baltic Sea. The Russian aircraft appeared to be carrying out a variety of routine training missions, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. Since May, the Typhoons carried out 18 live intercepts of Russian aircraft, but never before did they encounter such a large formation of Russian airplanes.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): As seen from an RAF Typhoon. (Image © UK Ministry of Defence)

Dutch F-16s end Baltic ops

Dutch F-16 fighter aircraft returned home from Poland on 16 December, ending their participation in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing mission. The F16s left their temporary base in Malbork in north eastern Poland, and flew home to Leeuwarden airbase.

The Dutch started their mission in September. Since, they intercepted aircraft four times, most notably two Sukhoi Su-34 Fullbacks from Russia. According to the Royal Netherlands Air Force, two Ilyushin IL-20 Coot spy planes were also intercepted last week.

The last of the 70 Dutch personnel at Malbork are also expected home before Christmas. It’s the Belgians that will replace them. By January, Belgian Air Component F-16s are expected at Malbork to take part in the Baltic Air Policing mission. Meanwhile, Eurofighter Typhoons from Italy are said to be heading to Siauliai in Lithuania, replacing Portuguese F-16s.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

A Dutch F-16 returns home. (Image © Elmer van Hest)
A Dutch F-16 returns home. (Image © Elmer van Hest)

2nd Russian Su-34 squadron near Ukraine complete

The latest batch of three Su-34s to leave the Novosibirsk Aircraft Plant of the Sukhoi Company, literately went south after take-off on 8 December 2014, according to a press release by its maker. Several Russian sources say the strike aircraft went home to Morozovsk Airbase in the Rostov region, 85 miles (140 km) east of the border with Ukraine.

The Novosibirsk Aircraft Plant apparently currently operates at its maximum capacity, which is about 15 to 16 aircraft a year. The latest batch are aircraft 13 to 15 of 2014, according to Russian sources. According to Russian sources the latest three landed at Morozovsk, where they complete a second Su-34 Bomber (Strike) squadron, each unit equipped with 12 planes. The location of the planes has nothing to do with the current military conflict in the eastern part of Ukraine, but has been planned a long time ago.

130 aircraft
The State contract with the Ministry of Defense with Sukhoi for supplies of up to 92 Su-34s to the Air Force till the year of 2020 provides the aircraft designer and the Novosibirsk Aircraft Plant with a stable work load for the near future. The Russian Air Force’s total requirement is believed to be between 124 and 130 aircraft. Russian airplane experts report that so far 62 of these strike aircraft have been built: 32 of the initial contract, 17 of the 2012 contract of 92, plus prototypes and pre-production versions.

The new Sukhoi Su-34 (NATO-reporting name Fullback) is a new generation frontline bomber with an increased up to 2,160 nautical miles (4,000 km) flight range, a maximum speed of up to 1025 knots (1900 km/h) and can carry 17,636 lbs (8 tons) of payload. The Su-34 has new weapon systems and is equipped with an air-refueling system.

Su-34s were lately the star of NATO’s propaganda, with the military alliance using the Su-34s reporting name Fullback, when both Royal Netherlands Air Force as well as Royal Norwegian Air Force F-16 interception videos of the type were released.

Source: Sukhoi Aircraft Company and Russian Ministry of Defence, with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

The Su-34 bomber from the October 2014 batch (Image © Sukhoi Company)
The Su-34 bomber from an ealier batch (Image © Sukhoi Company)