Military Capabilities

Russian, Syrian jets seen at eastern bases

15 October 2017
Four Russian Su-25s are seen at Tiyas Air Base on 23 September. Source: © 2017 DigitalGlobe, Inc

Key Points

  • Russian Su-25s appear to be using Tiyas Air Base as a forward arming and refuelling point
  • Syrian L-39s are now deployed at Tadmur Air Base

Russian Sukhoi Su-25 ‘Frogfoot’ strike aircraft appear to be using Tiyas (T4) Air Base in Syria’s Homs province as a forward arming and refuelling point (FARP), while Syrian Aero L-39 light attack jets have been deployed to Tadmur Air Base 60 km further to the east, DigitalGlobe satellite imagery shows.

The use of the air bases has presumably made a significant contribution to an increase in the number of strike sorties the two air forces are carrying out in support of pro-government forces that have advanced to the eastern cities of Dayr al-Zawr and Al-Mayadin.

Colonel General Sergey Rudskoy, the Russian General Staff’s head of operations, said on 21 August that the Russian air group in Syria was carrying out 60–70 sorties and about 160 strikes a day to support the eastern advance, while Ministry of Defence spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said on 10 October that Russian aircraft had carried out 182 airstrikes in a 24-hour period.

Russian helicopters have been using Tiyas since at least February, but the first satellite imagery showing Su-25s at the base was acquired on 24 August, when four were present along with an An-12 transport aircraft. The strike jets have been seen there again on several occasions in September and October.

The Su-25s are probably using Tiyas as a FARP because Russia appears to have only four Su-25s in Syria and all of them were back at the main Russian air base at Humaymim, 180 km to the northwest, on 26 September.

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