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Military Capabilities

Russia deploys additional Su-34s to Syria

11 December 2015
Airbus Defence and Space imagery shows that the number of Russian Su-34 strike aircraft deployed to Humaymim Air Base in Syria increased from four to eight between 1 and 7 December. (CNES 2015, Distribution Airbus DS / 2015 IHS)

Russia has further bolstered its strike capability in Syria by deploying another four Su-34 aircraft to the Humaymim Air Base in Latakia province, Airbus Defence and Space imagery captured on 7 December shows.

The deployment, which happened sometime after 1 December, brings the number of Su-34s in Syria up to eight. Russia also has 11 Su-24M tactical bombers, 12 Su-25 attack aircraft, four Su-30SM multirole fighters, and an Il-20M electronic intelligence (ELINT) platform at the base. A 12th Su-24M was shot down by a Turkish F-16 on 24 November.

Russian responded to that incident by deploying an S-400 strategic surface-to-air missile (SAM) battery. The Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) released photographs of two 5P85SM launchers at the base on 26 November. The satellite imagery from 1 December shows another two S-400 launchers had arrived by that date, but not the 92N6 engagement radar needed to form an operational system.

The MoD released additional images on 6 December showing a 92N6 had been deployed and this can be seen in the satellite imagery taken on the following day.

Meanwhile, the MoD has denied reports that it is preparing to deploy fixed-wing aircraft to the Al-Shayrat Air Base southeast of Homs city. It said there is no operational requirement to do this as aircraft based at Humaymim can reach any point in Syria in 40 minutes.

Airbus Defence and Space satellite imagery of Al-Shayrat on 8 November shows infrastructural improvements have recently been made at the base. The majority of the southern runway appears to have been resurfaced, with final repairs in progress at the southeastern end of the runway.

Four Mi-24 assault helicopters and one Mi-8 transport helicopter in Russian rather than Syrian colours were present at the air base on that date.

An image released by the Russian MoD on 6 December shows two 5P85SM launchers and a 92N6 engagement radar at Humaymim. (Russian MoD)An image released by the Russian MoD on 6 December shows two 5P85SM launchers and a 92N6 engagement radar at Humaymim. (Russian MoD)

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