Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR Feb 2017 Contents Asia Pacific Defence Reporter FEB 2017 61
HMNZS Te Kaha's SH-2G Seasprite helicopter lands
on HMAS Canberra's flight deck off the coast of Sydney
as both ships prepare to deploy for Exercise Rim of the
Pacific (RIMPAC). Credit: CoA / Helen Frank
This force was expanded in December 2015 through
the addition of 4 Su-34s and 4 Mi-35Ms, along
with several Mi-8s, and, in January 2016, 4 Su-35
Following the arrival of four additional Su-24Ms
in February 2016, the base housed the largest VKS
grouping so far - 44 combat jets and 16 helicopters.
In the wake of the ceasefire agreement later that
month, eight interdiction aircraft and all attack
aircraft flew back to Russia. Upon their departure,
the core air group was reduced to 24 supersonic
jets. Also, several Mi-24P|35Ms were replaced by
4 Mi-28N and 4 Ka-52 of the more advanced "4th
generation" combat rotorcraft. These proved their
worth in the desert around Palmyra, destroying
Daesh vehicles and manpower with guided missiles,
unguided rockets and 30-mm cannon shells.
At the height of the battle for Aleppo, the group
strength rose again, to a peak of 65 or so combat
platforms. These included Su-33 deck fighters that
arrived from the Russian navy's only carrier, the
Admiral Kuznetsov. As part of a broader peace deal,
Moscow announced on 6 January 2017 a reduction in
the expedition group. The naval task force deployed
off the coast of Latakia was ordered to withdraw
to the home base of Severomorsk. According to
the Russian defense ministry, in the course of two
months Russian naval aircraft performed 420 flights
(including 154 combat sorties from the carrier) and
destroyed 1,252 targets.
Target detection, recognition and designation
has been carried out with help from unmanned
air vehicles of the Orlan-10, Granat, Eleron and
Forpost types. Also, ten space satellites (including
civilian and double-use) provide imagery and ESM
Russia's "Military Transport Aviation" (VTS) has
proved essential to resupply and humanitarian relief
operations. Largest in the VTA inventory are the
An-124 -100 Ruslan super-heavy airlifters. In the
period September-December 2015, they made 113
flights to Khmeimeem to deliver more than 10,000
tons of cargo. In the past year, these aircraft
continued to transport equipment, supplies and
manpower to and from Russia.
The Ruslans were supplemented by somewhat
smaller Il-76M/MD heavy airlifters. In addition to the
strategic air bridge, these also drop air supplies to
the garrison of Daesh-besieged Deir E z-Zoir using
parachutes. Such missions have become routine,
since there are no other options to help the city’s
defenders (represented by the 104 Paratroopers
Brigade, 137 Mechanized Brigade of the 17 Division
and various popular defense units and tribal fighters).
According to the Russian MoD, over the last year the
airlift delivered 2,500 tons of humanitarian aid to
Deir Ez-Zoir dwellers.
The Iranian air force is also involved in relief
operations with their C-130 Hercules airlifters.
They have been dropping air supplies to the rebel-
besieged Shia enclaves in Idlib province. In addition,
Iranian An-74 STOL tactical transports and the
larger Il-76s are summoned when a need arises
to resupply Iran-backed militias and their Islamic
Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) instructors fighting
on the side of the Syrian government.
Speaking of anti-terrorist activities in 2016, the
chief of staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov said on
January 10 that the involvement of the Russian
Armed Forces enabled Bashar Al-Assad's troops
to liberate 12,360 square kilometers of Syrian land
and 499 settlements. Since October 2015, VKS
performed 19,160 combat sorties and delivered
over 71 thousand strikes on terrorist infrastructure.
The main targets were training camps, factories
and workshops manufacturing munitions and
explosives. Also, Russian air power destroyed
111 columns of oil trucks and 200 "objects of
unlawful oil extraction and trade", including 174
oil refineries. This caused disruption in the supply
system, depriving terrorists of their basic source of
revenues, Gerasimov insisted.
The dynamics of the ongoing effort can be
assessed by comparing the figures above to those
given by the Russian defense minister on December
22. According to Sergei Shoigu, the VKS performed
about 18,800 combat sorties, killed 35,000 gunmen
and destroyed 1,500 vehicles and artillery pieces.
Captured items include 488 tanks and armored
vehicles, 475 rocket launchers and 410 mortars.
The minister gave the number of destroyed terrorist
training camps at 725 and industrial facilities
manufacturing explosives and munitions at 405.
Interestingly, VKS first deputy commander
Gen. Pavel Kurachenko gave somewhat different
figures: "As of December 20, the Air and Space
Force conducted over 30,000 combat sorties, and
hit over 62,000 military targets". The difference
might be explained by Kurachenko having included
helicopter flights, which are often not counted by
the defense ministry.
Also in December, the Pentagon released
statistics on air strikes carried out by the U.S . led
Another view of the Russian contingent
Credit: Russian MoD
Daesh continues to exist and sustain its "caliphate" despite the
fact that the two major air powers of the world are involved in the
"War on Terror" on a daily basis.
30/01/2017 6:46 PM
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