Air Platforms

Syrian air force maintains high sortie rate

16 December 2013
A SAAF Aero L-39 Albatros trainer carries out an air strike in the Aleppo area in September 2012. The trainers were the first SAAF fixed-wing aircraft to be seen carrying out ground-attack sorties. Now, MiG-21, MiG-23, Su-22 and Su-24 jets are regularly seen carrying out attacks in videos posted on the internet. Source: PA Photos

The Syrian military's ability to strike deep inside opposition-held areas and provide close air support for ground forces remains undiminished despite the loss of many aircraft during more than two years of civil war.

The radars of the Patriot air defence systems deployed to Turkey are detecting 'Scud' ballistic missiles being fired into opposition-controlled areas on an almost daily basis, an Ankara-based Western military source has told IHS Jane's . The source added that the Syrian military is also making increased use of long-range artillery rockets.

The Patriots are also detecting Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAF) helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft flying very frequently in support of ground forces.

Turkish military sources told IHS Jane's that the SAAF is able to generate an impressive 100 sorties a day with helicopters and aircraft, on average 50% of which are combat sorties. The other sorties are split roughly equally between transport aircraft and training flights.

The Western military source said few people outside Syria knew how many sorties the SAAF flew a day before the war, but he presumed it was low. "The air force initially had problems because many aircraft were shot down, so it was inexperienced when it came to combat missions," he stated.

A Turkish military source claimed this situation had now changed. "The SAAF has become very effective in avoiding [the insurgency's] air defence, which is mostly composed of light guns and shoulder-launched missiles seized from the Syrian army," he said.

"The increased strength of the SAAF has also been making it possible for Syrian ground forces to get more support from helicopters and aircraft. This is the biggest morale booster for ground forces."

The high sortie rate of Syria's ageing, Soviet-era aircraft is at least partly attributable to Russian support. It has been widely publicised that Russia has been overhauling some Syrian Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters, some of which were reportedly being returned on the Alaed cargo ship that was forced to return to Russia in June 2012 after its insurance was withdrawn.

The annual reports released by Russian defence companies also indicate that 21 of the SAAF's Sukhoi Su-24M ground attack aircraft have been upgraded to the Su-24M2 standard at the Rzhez Aircraft Repair Plant west of Moscow.

The Western military source said the SAAF also benefits from having large pre-war fuel supplies and support from Iranian technicians. Like the SAAF, Iran has Su-24 and MiG-29 jets, as well as Mi-8/17 helicopters, that it keeps flying despite a UN arms embargo.



(414 words)
By posting a comment you confirm that you have read and accept our Posting Rules and our Terms of Use of this site.

RELEVANT PROFILE LISTINGS

  • AAAI RS-16

    Type Fixed-wing surveillance UAV. Development Founded in 2002, American Aerospace Advisors Inc (AAAI) UAS activities are 'dedicated' to the creation of systems for use by 'civil government and industrial customers worldwide'. Key RS-16 programme events include: 13 May 2014 AAAI announced that it

  • Lockheed Martin Vector Hawk

    Type Re-configurable small UAV. Development The Lockheed Martin Vector Hawk re-configurable small UAV (with the 'Vector' nomenclature standing for 'Versatile, Economical and Configurable, Tactical, Over-watch and Reconnaissance) was publicly unveiled at the AUVSI convention that was held in

  • UAVS Poland Aquila

    Type VTOL surveillance UAV. Development JAWAU understands that UAVS Poland was founded during 2010 as a spin-off involving the commercialisation of technology developed by the Stanislaus Science and Technology University in Kraków. For its part, the Aquila AV has been developed for fire

  • VTÚL Manta

    Type Tactical surveillance UAV. Development Development of the Manta AV (which was part-funded by the Czech Ministry of Industry and Trade), was started in 2006 by VTÚLaPVO engineers in collaboration with the Aveko company and the Czech Technical University in Prague. As such, the design is

  • Altavian Nova R8400

    Type Multi-purpose octocopter. Development Altavian was established during 2011 and describes the Nova R8400 octocopter as being an all-electric VTOL system that requires 'minimal' deployment logistics/operating area requirements and is designed to collect high-resolution data and to deliver it

ADVERTISEMENT

Industry Links

IHS Jane's is not responsible for the content within or linking from Industry Links pages.
ADVERTISEMENT