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Satellite pictures show Russian aircraft at Khmeimim air base in Syria

Pictures show advanced Russian aircraft deployed in increasing numbers in Syria

(FILES) This file photo taken on October 08, 2016 shows Russian ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin vetoing a Security Council vote on a French-Spanish resolution on Syria at the UN headquarters in New York City. Russia on October 28, 2016, failed to win re-election at the United Nations Human Rights Council in a vote rights groups said reflected international disapproval of Moscow's involvement in the war in Syria. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINICK REUTERDOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images

Satellite pictures have recently appeared on social media which show Russian aircraft parked at Khmeimim air base in Syria, which is the centre of Russian military operations in that country.

A total of 33 Russian aircraft can be identified, of the following types

  • Eleven Sukhoi Su-24 tactical bombers;
  • Three Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft;
  • Three Sukhoi Su-27 strategic fighters;
  • Six Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighters;
  • Four Sukhoi Su-30 fighter (identifiable by canards on the forward fuselage); and
  • Six 6 Su-34 strike fighters.

All the aircraft are parked in the open, with no hardened aircraft shelters visible.

As compared with the original Russian military deployment to Khmeimim air base in 2015, more modern and more sophisticated aircraft are now being deployed there, with the combined total of SU-27s, SU-30s, SU-34s and SU-35s now outnumbering and increasingly replacing the older SU-24s and SU-25s.

There has also been a sharp increase in the number of aircraft capable of air to air combat, with the SU-27s, SU-30s, SU-34s and SU-35s all fully air combat capable and the SU-27s, SU-30s and SU-35s principally designed for that role.

The Russian government recent signed a 49 year lease for Khmeimim air base, which will no doubt be subject to extensive modernisation.  However the satellite pictures show that this has not yet begun and that the physical infrastructure of the base is still essentially the same as it was back in 2015.  Presumably work to update the base will only properly begin once the fighting in Syria is over.

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