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Cost of Russia's military intervention in Syria

Special Reports | 2018-01-25 11:37:00
Cost of Russia's military intervention in Syria

(Zaman Al Wasl)- The Russian Air Force lost more than 30 jets and helicopters in Syria during 27 months since Russia intervened to save the Assad regime on September 30, 2015. The aircraft downed due to technical faults or downed by hostile fire. Others were destroyed on airports ground as a result of negligence by employees like what happened in the fire of Tifour Airport while other aircraft was destroyed by the bombing on Hemiemem Airport on New Year's Eve.

Russia has intervened under the pretext of fighting terrorism, especially Islamic State. Media and human rights reports confirm that the vast majority of its victims are civilians. Most of the areas targeted do not include Islamic State or al-Nusra Front.

According to a report by the Syrian Human Rights Network, Russian aircraft killed more than 5233 civilians, including 1417 children and 886 women, in a statistic that included two years of intervention that brought life back to the Assad regime after helping it to recapture many cities outside its control.

The network said in a report on the occasion of two years of Russian intervention, "since its intervention, Russian forces have carried out hundreds of unprovoked attacks, which have resulted in heavy human and material losses, mostly concentrated on areas controlled by opposition factions by about 85 percent." 

The network added, "the lowest number of attacks was in the areas under the control of Islamic State by about 15%, and even in areas controlled by the organization. Dozens of bombing incidents were documented that targeted civilian sites committing massacres against the residents of those areas.”

According to statistics gathered by Zaman al-Wasl, the Russian Air Force in Syria since the direct military intervention in Syria until the date of 31/12/2017, carried out more than 120 thousand sorties mainly from Hemeimem base in Jableh in the Syrian coast, in addition to Shuyarat, Tifour and Tadmour airports. The sorties were also carried out from several Russian airports from which the strategic launch bombers were fired. Also, the sorties were carried out from Hamdan airport in Iran which Tehran put in the service of Russian bombers in addition Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov.

More than 90 percent of Russian Air Force pilots participated in the Russian air strikes in Syria with a large number of aircraft. w Pilots and aircraft were changed from time to time.

Aircraft involved

Russian strategic bombers have been involved in aerial bombardments in Syria from several bases in Russia, the Hamadan base in Iran and, more recently, from Hemeimem Airport (Black Jack or White Swan TU-160) capable of carrying 40 tons of aerial ammunition and launcher TU-95 BEER can carry 15 tons of aerial ammunition and launcher TU-22 of all types can carry 20 tons of air munitions).

The Sukhoi Sy-30, a fighter jet that can both be a fighter and a launcher can carry up to 8 tons of air munitions

The medium-range fighter, Sukhoi Sy-34, was mainly tried in Syria and can carry nuclear weapons or more than 8 tons of various air munitions.

The fighter jets also include the Sukhoi Sy-35, one of the latest Russian fighter jets capable of serving as a fighter or bomber and carrying 8 tons of various air munitions.

The Sukhoi sy-24, which can carry 8 tons of air munitions, as well as Sukhoi sy-25, is called the Russian military aircraft and can carry up to 5 tons of air munitions.

The fighter jet, the Sukhoi sy-33, is part of the Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov, the most modern Russian naval aircraft on the aircraft carrier, capable of carrying 6 tons of air or air-to-air missiles.

In addition, the fighter jet mig-29k took part from the Russian aircraft carrier Kuznetsov as a fighter jet and the cargo aircraft Ilyushin 76, the cargo plane Antonov 124 Ruslan, the cargo plane giant Antonov 225 Maria and the aircraft 50 Electronic warfare, the aircraft Ilyushin 76 equipped with an early warning aircraft, the aircraft Antonov 72 and Antonov 74.

The Russian attacks also saw the participation of a large number of Russian helicopters in Syria, namely the Mi-24 (the flying tank), mi-28 (the night hunter), the latest in Russia and the mi-8 (K-52) and Kamov k-52 (crocodile) from Hemeimem, Astamou, al-Shuyarat, Tifour and Tadmour airports and the Kamov-kamof-28 from the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov and warships.

The Russian Air Force has lost four combat aircraft, including two from the Kuznetsov, and 11 aircraft were greatly damaged including 8 Sukhoi Sy-24 and Sukhoi Sy-35s on New Years’s Eve. The Russian Air Force lost more than 13 helicopters (mi-24, mi-28, mi-35, mi-8), one of which was hit on New Year's Eve in Hemeimem.

Regarding Russian loss of transport and cargo aircraft, Russia lost tu-154 and the damage of Antonov an-30 on New Year's Eve. This means the loss of 31 aircraft and a helicopter in which 14 Russian fine pilots were killed. 

This loss is considered a real disaster for a major power that is a major producer for aviation and that competes with war aircraft exports if we are to compare it with the aircraft losses for the western alliance led by the United 
States in Syria and Iraq.

The Russian Air Force losses were majorly downed jets. The Russian Air Force lost 4 warplanes and 3 pilots were killed. In addition, many aircraft engines were destroyed as a result of technical failures or direct damage by ground anti-craftt and birds. Since Russian aircraft operating in Syria have two engines, the loss was limited to 4 jets as follows. 

1. Sukhoi 24 was downed by a Turkish F-16 fighter on 24/11/2015 over the mountain of the Kurds near the border with Turkey as a result of violating Turkish airspace several times. The pilots jumped from the jet and one pilot was killed and his body was captured while the other pilot was rescued Russian special forces.
2. MiG-29 crashed into the sea during a landing attempt on board of the Russian Kuznetsov aircraft carrier on 14/11/2016 and the pilot survived as he jumped from the jet during the crash. 
3 – Sukhoi- crashed in the sea during an attempt to land on board of the carrier on 5/12/2016 and the pilot survived during the jet slipping to the sea.

4 – Sukhoi-24 crashed while taking off to a military mission from Hemiemem Airport and the crew was killed on 10/10/2017 due to the separation of an important part of the fuselage is believed to be the rearbacks of the left wing.

5 - The breakdown and coordination of more than 42 jet engines of different models due to technical failures or 
dangerous accidents and birds.
6. The damage of 8 Sy-24 and 3 S sy-35s on New Year's Eve on 31/12/2017 as a result by the bombings of Grad missiles on Hemiemem Airport. The fate of these aircraft was not known due to the secrecy of the Russian media covering of the incident.

Crashed helicopters

The Russian Air Force lost 12 combat helicopters whether by being downed or destroyed and 7 pilots were killed as follows:

1. Destroying a modern Mi-8 helicopter on 24/11/2015 with an anti-tank missile "Tao" while attempting to rescue the crew of the Sukhoi-24 jet which was dropped by Turkey in the Lattakia Mountains.
2. The Mi-8 helicopter crashed on 1/8/2016 in Tal al-Sultan between Saraqib and Abu al-Thouhour and its crew consisting of 3 individuals and officers were killed on board due to a fire in the helicopter resulting from a technical failure.

3. A Mi-24 helicopter crashed on 17/11/2015 during the Russian attack on Talbisa fronts as a result of the helicopter being hit by ground-based anti-aircraft and the violent movement carried out by the pilot during the accident. The helicopter crashed on a very low altitude, but the crew survived because of the proximity of the helicopter to the ground.

4. A Mi-28 combat helicopter (night hunter) crashed south of al-Qaryatayn on 12/4/2016 during a night mission after midnight, when it hit a rocky cliff, which led to the crash and the killing of its crew of pilots.

5 - Dropping of a Mi-35 combat helicopter east of Palmyra near the grain silos on 10/7/2016 by Islamic State ground anti-aircraft where the tail fan crashed and led to the crash of the helicopter and the killing of crew, in addition to 8 elements who were on board.

6. Destruction of a Mi-24 helicopter in the western area of Palmyra (Hwaisis) by M / D missile by the Islamic State on 4/11/2016. The crew was critically injured. They were transferred to Shuayratt Airport by another helicopter that was present in the same location.

7. The destruction and burning of 4 Mi-28 helicopters (night hunter) in the square of Tifour Airport on 25 May 2016 due to a large fire at the airport caused by a barbecue party that ignited the wildfire and reached the ammunition boxes behind the square. The fire led to large explosions and the burning of 27 trucks loaded with ammunition in addition to a large warehouse for Russian munitions.

8. Destruction and burning of a Mi-24 helicopter on May 25, 2017, in the major fire incident at the Tifour Airport.
9 - The crash of a Russian helicopter Mi-24 Sunday, 31/12/2017 12 km area southeast of Hama airport in Sheikh Ali Kasun area and the killing of crew in mysterious circumstances.

Damaged helicopters 

8 helicopters were damaged in several parts of Syria including helicopters flown to Russia for major repairs. The 
list includes:

1 - Mi-24 helicopter got damaged on 9/10/2015 after the attack on Kafar Nebouda village which led to forced landing and transfer on the carrier to Hama airport and from there to the Hemiemem Airport.
2- 4 Mi-24 combat helicopters got seriously damaged which led to putting them out of service during different periods during the attacks on Kafar Nabouda, Talbisa, Palmyra, and coastal mountains. 
3-Mi-35 combat helicopter got damaged during the course of military operations in the villages of Hama, Homs and Lattakia which resulted in their being deported to Russia for impossibility of repair at Hemiemem Airport.

4 - Mi-8 helicopter was hit at Hemiemem Airport on New Year's Eve 2017 as a result of the bombing on the airport with Grad missiles.

5 – Replacing a large number of rotary wings (propeller) and tail cones to the various types of helicopters participating in combat operations as a result of severe damage caused by hits by anti-aircraft missiles throughout Syria.

Also, an air disaster happened caused by the crash of a Russian Tupolev TU-154 passenger jet on 25/12/2016 after it took off from Krasnodar Airport, killing 91 people on board, including 64 members of the Russian military band Alexandrov in addition to General Alexander Khalilov. The plane was heading to Hemeimim Airport to hold a concert for Russian soldiers at the Hemeimim Airport on the occasion of the New Year in 2016.

Also, that period witnessed the damage of Antonov an-72 aircraft and the Antonov an-30 aircraft on the New Year's Eve as a result of the bombing by Grad missiles.

Russia's losses of drones

Russia has considered the Syrian land a field of testing for a large number of equipment and modern weapons. Drones were the most tested in Syria. More than 5 types of drones big and small sized were tested. The most known modern drone in Russia is dozor-600 (the drone is a copied model of the famous American bredator) and the tactical drone orlan-10 and the smallest tactical drone aleron-3. The Russian Air Force lost a large number of these drones as follows:

- Russian forces have lost more than 20 small-scale aleron-3 tactical drones in most of Syria.
- The Russian Air Force has lost four aleron-10, the most modern tactical aircraft in Russia, which was tested in Syria.

Based on the number of sorties approved by Russia to implement in Syria until 15/12/2017, which amounted to 120 thousand sorties, according to the Russian Chief of Staff and Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu and based on very accurate statistics on the losses of Russia from first-class accidents; namely loss of 12 helicopters and 4 combat jets in addition to the 14 jets that were seriously damaged by the bombing on Hemiemem Airport on New Year's Eve.

With simple calculations, it is clear that the Russian Air Force lost every 7500 sorties by jet or helicopter. This is a real disaster for a country such as Russia which is an aviation manufacturer. A disaster due to the low safety state in Russia and reflects negatively on Russian aviation in the countries looking to buy warplanes from Russia as Russia tries hard through its war operations in Syria to polish its warplanes’ reputation and to use the war actions in a propaganda to market its planes worldwide.

Zamana Al Wasl
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