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Deterring Israel? Russia deploys MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria

Deterring Israel? Russia deploys MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria

This article was first published by RussiaFeed

The Russian Ministry of Defence has unexpectedly confirmed the deployment of MiG-29SMT fighters to Russia’s Khmeimim air base in north east Syria.

The MiG-29SMT should not be confused with the new MiG-35, which has yet to enter service with the Russian Aerospace Forces, and which is an essentially new aircraft with new electronics and engines and a new airplane structure, though one which uses the old MiG-29’s planform.  By contrast the MiG-29SMT is essentially a heavily modernised MiG-29, an aircraft that entered service with the Russian air force in the 1980s.

It is nonetheless a potent aircraft which however is designed for air to air combat against enemy fighters rather than for strike roles or ground attack.  In this it differs from the SU-35 and SU-30 fighters also deployed by the Russian Aerospace Forces to Syria, which though exceptionally effective air combat fighters are nonetheless true multirole fighters, which are also very effective when used for ground strikes.

What explains the deployment of the MiG-29SMT to Syria?

Ever since the start of the Russian intervention in Syria in 2015 the Russians have openly and frankly spoken of Syria as a testing ground for their military systems.  It would be in keeping with this approach to use Syria to test the combat performance of the MiG-29SMT, making it incidentally the first MiG fighter deployed by the Russians to Syria on a sustained basis, though four much more advanced naval MiG-29K fighters were also briefly deployed to Syria last autumn on board Russia’s carrier Admiral Kuznetsov.

However a more likely  reason for the deployment to Syria of the MiG-29SMT is that the Russians are preparing a delivery of MiG-29SMT aircraft to Syria and the deployment of some examples of this aircraft to Khmeimim air base is intended to familiarise the Syrians with it.

In 2009 the Russians confirmed that a contract had been agreed between Russia and Syria for the supply of 24 MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria.  The sale was however postponed in 2012 because of the Syrian war.  However with most of western Syria now pacified and under the Syrian government’s control, and with ISIS just weeks away from final defeat in eastern Syria, it is now possible to speak of the Syrian war finally winding down, making it possible for the supply of the 24 MiG-29SMTs to proceed.

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When the Syrian war is finally over the Syrian air force – which has experienced heavy equipment losses because of the war, and whose aircraft are anyway largely obsolete Soviet designs delivered to Syria by the USSR in the 1970s and 1980s – will need modern new aircraft to re-equip itself, especially in light of the increasing threats to Syria from Israel.

At that point the transfer of the 24 MiG-29SMT fighters to Syria may finally take place, with the deployment of some of these aircraft to Syria being intended to prepare the ground for this.

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foxenburg
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foxenburg

Russia’s Khmeimim air base in north east Syria.

north west Syria

Tom Welsh
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Tom Welsh

How ironic that Syria’s enemies have thus caused it to refresh its armed forces with new, state-of-the-art weaponry!

mikhas
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mikhas

Another plane that was due to be delivered just about the same time but was also postponed because of the war on Syria, is the Yak 130 trainer. It is also a small bomber perfect for Syrian conditions and environments.

Eventually, Putin said that the delivery of said war plane/trainer was in full swing as of somewhere around February 2016, but i havn’t seen video or pictures of it as would otherwise have been a sure thing.

Simon
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Simon

Two years ago Robert Fisk was (I think) the first to predict that the SAA would emerge as the strongest battle-hardened Arab army. And he was not even factoring in any new quality hardware.
Compare with the Afghan military – after 16years of US ‘training and equipping’…..

SFC Steven M Barry USA RET
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SFC Steven M Barry USA RET

This is good news. Hopefully Russia will leave behind the S300s and S400s also.

tjoes
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tjoes

Russia….as much as you hate to acknowledge it….Israel IS your enemy and is driving the US aggression toward you.

Tommy Jensen
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Tommy Jensen

But Russia/China will still not allow Syria new anti-air systems.
The US Coaltion and Israel can continue to kill syrian civilians, syrian soldiers, Iranian and hezbollah terrorist fighters, bomb syrian schools, whoever they want in Syria.

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