by Louis Martin-Vézian of CIGeography (Facebook / Twitter). Louis, thank you very much for your time-consuming research and all the work, which you have dedicated to this project. Additional, we like to thank Arto Pulkki and Abraxas Spa for additional information.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015, a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet shot down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M near the Syria–Turkey border. In reaction to the downing, Russia deployed among other equipment the guided missile cruiser Moskva armed with S-300F (SA-N-6 Grumble) long-range SAM missiles closer to the Syrian coast near Latakia and a S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) mobile SAM system to Khmeimim airbase. Consequently, due to the visible signs of Russia’s expansion of the campaign in Syria, an update of our comprehensive infographic was necessary.
In this December 2015 update, Louis added the ranges for each of the S-400 missile types, new radar and electronic warfare equipment, from Russian air bases launched strategic bombers striking Syrian targets during November 2015, Turkish deployment after the downing of the Su-24M, some additional ships and logistic elements.
Important: The version below has been updated again on December 11, 2015: The date of the downing of the Russian SU-24M was wrong — fixed. The Varshavyanka-class (Project 636, which is an improved Kilo-class) Rostov-na-donu submarine (B-237), which launched the Kalibr-PL cruise missile, has been added. There are now eight instead of four Sukhoi Su-34 stationed in Syria.
Supplementary information on certain Russian weapons systems
- Sukhoi Su-34 (Fullback): fighter bomber to destroy ground, sea and air targets. The Su-34s should replace the Su-24s. Russia fighters stationed at Syrian air bases supported the ground operations of the Syrian armed forces with more than 60 sorties per day, which increased to more than 90 sorties per day during a bombardment campaign in November 2015 (see graphic below). After the downing of the Su-24M, the Su-34s are newly equipped with R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) and R-73 (AA-11 Archer) air-to-air missiles for self protection (Jacek Siminski, “Russian bombers now flying with air-to-air missiles for self-protection over Syria“, The Aviationist, 02.12.2015).
- Sukhoi Su-30SM (Flanker-C): 4.5 generation multi-role fighter plane. First falsely identified as Su-27 by the Institute for the Study of War. After the downing of the Su-24M, they received the new task to escort the fighter bombers.
- Sukhoi Su-25SM single-seater and Sukhoi Su-25UM two-seater (Frogfoot): for close air support.
- Sukoi 24M and Sukhoi Su-24M2 (Fencer-D): fighter bomber to destroy ground, sea and air targets.
- Mil Mi-24P (Hind): large helicopter gunship, attack helicopter and low-capacity troop transport with room for eight passengers.
- Mil Mi-8AMTSh (Hip): transport and assault helicopter with room for about 24 passengers. One Mi-8AMTSh was hit by small-arms fire from the ground during the search and rescue operation after the downing of the Su-24, November 24, 2015 and had to make an emergency landing. Following the landing, Syrian Turkmen destroyed the helicopter by a mortar round.
- Orlan-10 UAVs: already been used for reconnaissance in Syria for a longer time.
- Yakovlev Pchela-1T UAVs: had probably already been used for reconnaissance in Syria before September 2015.
- Granat-3 UAVs.
- Il-20M Coot-A: an ECM/ELINT version of the Ilyushin Il-18.
- Il-22M Coot-B: an airborne command post version of the Ilyushin Il-18.
- BTR-82A/B armored personnel carrier: originating from the 27th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade.
- T-90: a third-generation Main Battle Tank, which is essentially a modernization of the T-72B, incorporating many features of the T-80U.
- BM-30 Smerch: a multiple launch rocket system with a max. range of 90 km. Two of them were located in a stadium about 10 km north-east of Latakia in May 2014 and are probably operated by the Syrian Army (35.466484°N 36.051163°E).
- R-166-0.5 (ultra) high-frequency signal (HF/VHF) signaling vehicles: enables interference resistant transmissions of voice and data with a possible range between 25 km and more than 1,000 km (depending on frequency).
- Krasukha-4: a mobile, ground-based, electronic warfare system with an operational range of about 300 km.
- 1RL131 Spoon Rest and 1RL22 Parol: general purpose, early warning and air traffic control radar, stationed at the air base in Latakia.
- Pantsir-S1 (SA-22 Greyhound): land-based short-range air defense missile system. Russia has deployed Pantsir S1 and Buk-M2 medium-range surface-to-air missile systems (running probably jointly with Syrian Osa short-range tactical surface-to-air missile systems, S-125 Pechora-2M, 3RS, S-200 and other air defense systems.) to protect its airbase in Latakia and other military and civilian facilities. There were also reports that Syria had acquired 36 Pantsir-S1s, capable of hitting 4 targets simultaneously at 20 km distance and 15 km altitude, and some Buk-M2Es, the export model which differs from its predecessor, the Buk M1-2 by having better protection from radio-electronic jamming and new features for highlighting targets and targeting missiles. The Buk-M2E can ensure simultaneous tracking of up to 24 air targets with ability to attack the 6 most dangerous ones. It has radar highlighting and targeting with an antenna post that can be elevated 21 meters enabling greater effectiveness on striking low-flying targets. (“Putin in Syria: Rebels Retake Hama Town Of Morek Despite Month Of Russian Air Strikes“, The Interpreter, 05.11.2015).
- S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler): an anti-aircraft weapon system with extremely long range 40N6 (400 km), long range 48N6 (250 km) and medium range 9M96 (120 km) missiles.
- KaMaz 4350, KaMaz 6350 (with 152 mm howitzer 2A65 Msta-B), Gaz 66, Ural 4320: most likely unarmored or probably light armored troop transport vehicles.
- GAZ-2975 Tigr: light armored 4×4, multipurpose, all-terrain infantry mobility vehicle (often referred to as the “Russian Hummer“).
- “PM-56” or “PM-138”: Amur class floating workshop in the port of Tartus (for satellite imagery see below).
- Moskva: Missile cruiser (Slava-Class) located on the coast of Latakia. Among other equipment, Moskva has a S-300F (SA-N-6 Grumble) short-range air defense missile system with a range of about 90 km on board. The Moskva is the flagship of the Mediterranean squadron, further consisting of the destroyer Smetlivy (Kashin-Class), the Krivak-class frigates Pytlivyy and Ladny, and an unknown landing craft (“Russische Kriegsschiffe vor Latakia“, NZZ, 02.10.2015; Andrew Roth and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “Russia’s military is unlikely to turn the tide in Syria’s war“, The Washington Post, 04.10.2015; “Russian Navy Slava cruiser Moskva launched Anti-Ship and Air Defense Missiles West of Angola“, Navy Recognition, 16.07.2015).
- Rostov-na-donu submarine (B-237): a third generation submarine of the Varshavyanka-class (Project 636), which is an improved Kilo-class. December 08, 2015, with the Rostov-na-donu, for the first time, a Russian Navy submarine took part in the strikes successfully hitting its designated target from the Mediterranean Sea. It launched the Kalibr-PL cruise missile a submarine-variant of the 3M14TE Kalibr-NK with a maximum range of 2,600 km (“Russia hits targets in Syria from Mediterranean submarine“, BBC News, 08.12.2015).
Supplementary information on certain Turkish weapons systems
- HX77 KORAL EW suit: KORAL stands for “Land Based Radar Electronic Warfare System” which is composed of one Radar Electronic Support and four Radar Electronic Attack systems all mounted on 8×8 tactical military vehicles. It is controlled from Operation Control Units, which houses the operators. The system is built by NATO standards and provides NBC protection for the crew (Source: @Saturn5_).
- M-60T Sabra Mk.II: an extensively upgraded M60 Patton tank, developed by Israel Military Industries.
The Russian bombardment campaign during November 17-20, 2015
In response of the downing of the Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 in the North Sinai Governorate, Russia intensified its bombardment campaign against positions of the terror organisation “Islamic State“, during November 17-20, conducting more than 90 sorties from Syrian air bases per day. They were supported by strategic bombers (TU-22M3, Tu-95MS and Tu-160) stationed on Russian air bases (Engels, Olenya and Mozdok Air Base). Additionally the Caspian Flotilla fired 18 sea-based long-range Kalibr cruise missiles at seven targets (“Meeting with Defence Ministry heads on Russia’s operations in Syria“, President of Russia, 20.11.2015).
Shayrat Air Base — the development of an additional airbase for Russia’s operations?
Based on the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and an anonymous U.S. official, Russia is probably developing an additional air base southeast of Homs (Shayrat Air Base; John Davison, Mark Hosenball, Ludmila Danilova and Ralph Boulton, “Syrian Observatory – Russia expands air base near Homs, uses another in the province“, Reuters, 03.12.2015; Dan Urchick and Christopher Kozak, “Russia Reportedly Expands Syria Footprint with New Air Base“, Institute for the Study of War, 01.12.2015). Furthermore, there are rumours spreading around that Russia will increase the number of its planes to over 100 to meet the needs of the ground forces… we will see.
- Regarding the Russian overflights, check that source: David Cenciotti, “Online flight tracking provides interesting details about Russian air bridge to Syria“, The Aviationist, 11.09.2015.
- “Russian power politics in Syria“, offiziere.ch, 21.10.2015.
- The Syria General Archive – updated at the end of each day.
- Conflict maps by Agathocle de Syracuse