Russia Prepares to Send Su-25 to Syria After Cessation of Hostilities Collapses

Translated by Ollie Richardson


Russia increased the number of jets at the Hmeymim airbase by transferring additional frontline Su-24 and Su-34 bombers. Attack planes Su-25 “Rook” were also prepared for flight to Syria, however the order on their dispatch hasn’t yet been given. The expansion of the Russian aviation group comes after threats from the US to activate the so-called plan “B” in Syria, which involved an intensification of airstrikes, additional transfer of forces of special troops, and an increase in deliveries of arms to “moderate opposition”. The plan “B” was developed by American power structures in the event of a failure of efforts by the State Department to come to an agreement with Russia.

“At the present moment only the additional Su-24 and Su-34 bombers were sent to Syria, and Su-25 remain on Russian territory as reserve,” said a source in military and diplomatic circles to “Izvestia”. If necessary the airforce will be strengthened in 2–3 days. The Su-25 attack planes that will be sent to the Hymeymim airbase have already been placed in regiments and are prepared for flight, their crews are in the regime of waiting for orders from command.

According to the interlocutor of “Izvestia”, the strengthening of the Russian airgroup was small and actually had the character of a planned rotation.

“Several more Su-24 bombers with the sighting system SVP-24 and Su-34 were sent to Syria. Also a part of the current aviation group is the replacement of those jets that previously returned to Russia to undergo routine maintenance,” explained the source.

As was told to “Izvestia” by one of authors of the book “Syrian Frontier”, the independent military expert Anton Lavrov, the use of Su-25 attack planes will allow to increase the quantity of sorties by the Russian aircraft significantly .

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“A feature of using the Su-25 in Syria is that they are used not as attack planes, but as bombers, meaning they bring bombs to the target and drop them from large heights along with frontline Su-24 and Su-34 bombers,” said Anton Lavrov. “However, compared to them, the Su-25 is a simple and lightweight jet, it is easier to prepare for departure. If the Su-34 can make two departures per day, the Su-25 can do 10 departures. In each plane there are several pilots. This allows blows to be struck almost continuously and not to give to fighters on the ground respite.”

The expert explained that every jet in Syria has its own specialization.

“The Su-24 has better sights, provide higher precision bombing in difficult conditions; the Su-34 with its optical-radar system can find targets and specializes on precision weapons, and the Su-25 is a work horse, a kind of truck with bombs,” explained Anton Lavrov. “These planes were modernized and are capable of striking blows with an accuracy of 0.8 (corresponds to a hit within several meters of the target). The automatic control system ensures the bombing of coordinates received from intelligence, and the pilot is only required to take the jet to the skies and to steer it to the region of the target.”

Political scientists note that by expanding the air group in Syria, Moscow has shown a willingness to take decisive measures in the event  that the negotiation process stalls.

Chairman of the Presidium of the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy Fedor Lukyanov explained to “Izvestia” that a buildup of forces could be the response to the actual failure of the ceasefire.

“Unfortunately, peace efforts reached deadlock, and government troops aren’t yet capable of independently achieving a breakthrough in the war, so we should return to the level of intervention that was seen until March of the current year,” the political scientist stated.

Fedor Lukyanov noted that blows of the Russian aircraft are essential help for the Syrian army, however she is exhausted by long war, and difficult to predict an outcome of fight for Aleppo.

“Currently nobody can win a resolute victory, and it means that sooner or later negotiations will be resumed, perhaps, after a change of administration in the White House,” the analyst considered. “So far each of the warring parties tries to win a victory in Aleppo to change the balance of power in their favor and to gain an advantage in future negotiations.

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