Ominous Warning: Russian Air Power in Ukraine

And So It Begins

24-August 2016: Ankara begins combat operations, including the deployment of ground forces into Syrian territory. See here.

"Be advised that local authorities are denying movements on to and off of Incirlik Air Base. The power there has also been cut. Please avoid the air base until normal operations have been restored."
- Emergency Message,  American Embassy, Ankara, 16-July 2016.

17-July, 2016: A false-flag coup (a staged coup) operation has been conducted by the Erdogan government in Turkey against secularists in the Turkish military, the courts, police, and other parts of the government. False-flag due to purging and arrest warrants issued for over 2,700 judges (including 2 members of the Supreme Court) at the start of the coup - on the 16th. This sweeping list is not possible so quickly. Arrest warrants include 48 administrative court members and 140 members of Turkey's appeals court. Television and newspapers have also been shut down. Ultimate fallout from all of this - unknown.

16-July 2016: All air and combat operations at Incirlik have been suspended. NATO also have nuclear weapons at Incirlik. With power cut are nukes secure? Secularism in Turkey is under acute internal threat - as is US/NATO basing. The future of the Turkish Air Force is unclear.

Lockheed Martin photo
[Above] TuAF F-16C block 40 from 181 squadron conducted the first strikes on PKK and ISIS using GBU-12 Paveway II. Here #92-0019 from 181 Filo conducting carriage tests of dummy AGM-84K. The aircraft is photographed landing at NAS Fort Worth 15-Feb, 2011.

The Turkish Air Force enters the fray (Operation 'Martyr Yalcin') and begins hitting Daesh and PKK (Kurdish separatist) - at the same time. The Kurds are one of the sanest groups in the region as they are NOT Islamic extremists or Wahhabi/Salafists. Our concern here (and elsewhere) is that Turkey will spend more time bombing the PKK than Daesh. This is a total mess - and it has public NATO support.

23-Mar 2015: We have (temperately) removed a partial Allied Orbat (Order Of Battle) list of some squadron and air units after reports of Daesh kill list of US service personnel and aircrews associated with strikes in Iraq and Syria. Our apologies, but we are not here to facilitate Daesh. 

19-Sep 2015: The US says a Russian expeditionary force has begun to arrive in Syria. Footage below (filmed near Homs) show four Su-24 precision-strike aircraft. Assad is showing signs of stress/collapse. Fighting is getting closer and closer to Damascus according to Syrian refugees now flooding into Europe. Many of the thousands of Syrians now fleeing are escaping mandatory conscription into Assad's army. We will spawn a new post on Russian involvement if warranted.

18-Mar 2015: U.S. loses contact with an MQ-1 drone over Latakia and it appears consistent with images showing wreckage.

10-Feb 2015: UAE first pulls out of air operations on ISIS after the Daesh kills a captured Jordanian F-16 pilot. After the US move, SAR (search and rescue) assets closer to the fighting UAE reverses the decision. Jordan may finally send in ground troops. The local population has now turned fiercely anti-Daesh. Let us hope this is the beginning of the end of the Wahhabist-Salafist fueled homicidal-psychopath rampaging-fantasy called "ISIS." Destruction of all Daesh petro-revenues should be primary. Without money - Daesh withers and dies.

ISIS has been joined by (or being used by) former Ba’ath party members using it for there own purposes. This also explains how ISIS was able to use tanks in combat so effectively – something no one could figure out before. Cutting off all Daesh funding sources (from oil and elsewhere) is key.
UAE F-16E/F Block 60. Note CFTs (conformal fuel tanks) on either of the fuselage over the basic F-16. This is to extend combat radius, endurance, and to free-up hardpoints.

23-Sept 2014: Airstrikes on ISIS by the United States, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan begin in Syria. Developing story. Qatar reportedly is playing a support role. [As of 02-Nov 2014 Turkey has agreed to host allied aircraft - or not.] The operation gets a name "Inherent Resolve."

American B-1B bombers and USN Tomahawks were part of the first wave of attacks. USAF/USN tactical aircraft including for the first time the F-22A - followed in the second wave. The B-1B 'Lancers' were diverted from Afghanistan duty. Reportedly 8 civilians - including 3 children – have been killed to date.
24-Sept 2014: There appears to have been a chemical weapon attack by (presumably) Syrian regime forces in the town of Adra (outside Damascus). Video here and here.

After three years of waiting for the West to help, ordinary Syrians have become immensely skeptical about US intentions. God knows where this will end – as the United States has now spearheading an open-ended war in the Middle East. We are not unsympathetic to the ISIS issue -they are homicidal psychopaths that left unchecked - would also have access to petrodollars. We already have a medieval society in Saudi Arabia which has vast amounts of petrodollars (most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals). 

With prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia now publicly out of the picture, ISIS/L needed a new revenue stream. Moving to capture oil fields in Sunni areas of Iraq was a logical choice with a nonfunctional al-Maliki government [that was] only interested in sectarian reprisal. This also resulted in large ISIS seizures of US-supplied Iraqi military hardware. Saudi Arabia has vigorously denied supporting the ISIS/L. However Saudi history with Wahhabism is a matter of historical fact. The entire region is full of very bad actors.

Containment of Wahhabist-Salafist states who have access to petrodollars - needs to be US grand strategy for the foreseeable future?

Better ISIS military tactics, propaganda apparatus, and other behavior would be consistent with former Iraqi Ba'ath Party members and Chechens now embedded or leading ISIS/L ranks?
[Above] USAF F-16C over Koboni, Syria 14-Oct 2014, with an ‘armed reconnaissance loadout including 2x external auxiliary drop tanks (inboard stations), 2x GBU-12 laser guided bombs (port wing), 2x GBU-38 GPS guided bombs (starboard), 2x AIM-120C, 2x AIM-9L/M, what appear to be Lantern or Litening class targeting pods (near engine intake) and possibly AN/ALQ-131 or AN/ALQ-184 ECM pod at the aircraft's centerline. The USAF isn't taking any chances with the SyAAF. Kobani has proven a good place to attrit Daesh as ISIS/L has continued to push resources into the towns capture. Expect lots of American sorties if they continue. Good call by CENTOM on this one.

Judging from the list of governments involved - and because these governments are also arrayed against Bashar al-Assad in Syria - we believe there is over a 70% probability that air strikes on ISIS/L (also known as the 'Daesh') in Syria will also (also) encompass strikes on Assad government targets at some point.

The other reason the probability is increasing is that proper ‘Battlefield Preparation’ in Syria remains undone. Improper Battlefield Preparation produces IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) issues that will collide with the Washingtons strategy to support rebels with airstrikes and CAS (Close Air Support) while magically keeping Assads air force (the SyAAF) at bay. 

Having opposing air forces flying around in the same airspace is a recipe for disaster. 

Assuming the moderate forces to be trained-supplied by the coalition come under attack by Assad airpower – which it will – then what? Give rebels MANPADS? That’s a bad (bad) idea. IFF. A bewildering array of aircraft are now operating (and will operate) over Syria. Coalition and SyAAF aircraft will look similar (read: indistinguishable) to all (all) combatants on the ground (FSyA, Kurds, Assadist, IRGC, ISIS/L) and will even produce very tense moments for coalition aircrews. Every moment your not sure what you're looking at (who you are looking at) – could be your last. 

Battlefield Preparation: Either way - you have to take out Assads air power just to achieve American objectives with ISIS. We don’t think the Whitehouse, the Washington intelligence bureaucracy, Brussels, or congress - has even recognized (read: discerned) the problem.

An F-15 looks nearly identical to a MiG-29 especially at a distance and at off angles. Even for seasoned combat pilots IFF can be extremely difficult to delineate. The MiGs twin Klimov RD-33 engines will emit notable exhaust soot in when not in reheat (not in afterburner), however, to expect ground combatants in Syria to have IFF proficiency approaching a seasoned fighter pilot - is pure fantasy. 

Are the Saudis going to fly their Panavia Tornados? It will look just like a SyAAF MiG-23 and especially the Su-24 'Fencer.' 

When the Kremlin sits down and figures all this out - we may see Assad be supplied with (far) more dangerous weaponry, and putting allied aircraft at great risk. This could unravel the entire Western strategy. The Kremlin may decide to have Assad push out all opposing elements in Syria? Nothing happens in a vacuum - so the longer the war on ISIS takes the greater probability of unintended outcomes- which are already extremely high. 

This whole thing is wide open?

The Turks have launched airstrikes against Kurdish separatists. 

[Below] Syria SAM coverage map as of 2009-10. As of 2014 only the SAM networks along the coast and in Damascus remain. Effectively little to no S-200 batteries remain operational. Because coalition aircraft were predominantly non-stealth designs other methods were employed to counter whatever SAM threat remains. Namely traditional EW assets and tactical aircraft carrying anti-radiation weapons like HARM. Having said that the Syrian SAM threat currently over anything but the coast and Damascus is - minimal to zero.
23-Sept 2014: Purportedly footage of the combat debut of the beleaguered American F-22A Lockheed Raptor. It appears to be a FLIR image of the strike by another asset. In what is effectively a PR (public relations) opportunity for Lockheed and USAF, F-22 dropped what appears to be GPS-guided SDB (small diameter bombs). Indeed the damage in this footage appears consistent with SDB? Also the building appears to be empty (?)  F-22A crews and support personnel finally get "some" combat-deployment experience? At over $400 million per copy, the F-22 is the most expensive fighter in history.

ACIG: The USAF/USN tactical aircraft together with UAEAF F-16E, RBAF F-16C/D, RSAF F-15S, RQAF Mirage 2000s, and RJAF's F-16AM are now taking part. USAF A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft are also en route however it is unclean is they are going to be operating in Afghanistan or Syria/Iraq (see further below).

The IqAF, French AF, USAF, USN as well as IRIAF fighters are operating over Iraq. The IRIAF F-4Es of 31st TFS have flown four interdiction sorties against ISIS/L-Daesh infrastructure in Kurdistan province of Iraq in the past several weeks. Also, four IRIAF Su-24MKs were used in a dozen of strike missions near Baiji oil refinery and Amerli. Reportedly Pars Aviation MRO Center is now preparing three additional Su-25 attack jets (delivered to the IRGCASF by Russia in July) for IqAF.

[Below] Purportedly footage of coalition attacks in Syria. Authenticity unconfirmed. Looks like helicopters to us:

[Below] From Dayr az-Zawr, Syria near the Iraqi border. Coalition strike in broad daylight. There appears to be little (or zero) anti-air threat.

24-Sept 2014: Reports of ISIS/L-Daesh advance on Syria Kurdish town and indeed have published video taking the town. As a rule we will not post ISIS/L-Daesh promotional video (though it must be collected for analysis and historical/academic use by someone) - however we may post - if their images reveal weaknesses or other detail(s) that we think will assist in ISIS/L-Daesh demise.

[Below] ISIS/L controlled oil fields. This revenue stream will need to be cut. And indeed see link.
24-Sept 2014: [Below] USAF B-1B over Fallujah, Iraq.

26-Sept 2014: British parliament approves strikes on the Daesh in Iraqi but not in Syria.

01-Oct 2014: Iraq new prime minister Abadi opposes Arab strikes in Iraq.

02-Oct-2014: The Turks agree to enter the fighting and to host allied aircraft. Australia also votes to participate. The allied alliance will unravel if strict and limited war goals are not adhered to. As we've stated from the beginning - there is a high probability this war will expand to encompass attacks on Assad at some point.

[Below] Video released by CENTCOM showing in-flight refueling for USN F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets reportedly on September strikes into Syria. The Hornet loadout are a bit strange for Syria as it is MiG-CAP focused (perhaps understandably) but without an AGM-88 weapon? We see a mix of AIM-9X (wingtips) AIM-120C and, AIM-7M/P. Observers have been perplexed by carriage of the older late-model AIM-7 SARH rounds (which requires target illumination from Hornet's AN/APG-73). One explanation is AIM-7 is more resistant to ECM than AIM-120. Also, it is good to have a variety of guidance techniques to give an adversary more than one kind of problem to deal with. It could also be the USN is attempting to use-up some of their older missile stocks. One aircraft is fitted with what appears to be an AN/ASQ-228 IR targeting pod. We expect to see allied fighters operating with external drop tanks very soon - as the theater of operation(s) is enormous.

[Below] 02-Oct 2014: From Iraq/Syria border:

[Below] 02-Oct 2014: A remotely piloted Predator UAV 'drone' over Kafar Takharim just over 2 mi from the Turkish border (near Idleb). It appears to be armed (typically AGM-114 Hellfire). These drones have been all the rage in recent years and received enormous amounts of attention in the public sphere. The truth is their use is limited to a very narrow operational envelope where they can fly unmolested.

Carrier-ops video from USN dated 04-Oct 2014:

[Below] 07-Oct 2014: Dramatic footage of Kurds fighting ISIS T-55 tank advance in/near the town of Kobani. The Kurdish YPG/PKK seems woefully under-equipped? [Update: the T-55 in questions was hit and destroyed by an Allied F-15E] A bit better here. ATGM and what appears to be a Russian anti-material rifle. Perhaps in the KSVK 12.7 class? Reports that some ISIS fighters appear to be drugged.

USAF B-1B strike [2000 lbs JDAM?] on ISIS in Kobane. As of 08-Oct it appears that CENTOM has stalled the ISIS advance on Kobani? 11-Oct: Very mixed reports now saying ISIS took 2/3 of the city. Allied air power is going to need to do a better job. Where are the vaunted Predator drones orbiting and watching people movements on the ground?

[Below] We have (temperately) removed a partial Allied Orbat (Order Of Battle) list of squadron and air units after reports of Daesh kill list of US service personnel and aircrews associated with strikes in Iraq and Syria. Our apologies, but we are not here to facilitate Daesh. Our personal view is to simply authorize the use of chemical weapons against the Daesh - and end it. They are nothing more than homicidal-psychopaths. So the longer they exist - the worse.

* note

17-Oct 2014: Speculation is swirling after Daesh overran Tabqa AB on 25-Aug and captured over 20+ MiG-21s and an additional two Ksheesh, with perhaps a dozen L-39s. Flyable examples would be perhaps 1/5th of this number. The big speculation right now is can Daesh (ISIS/L) find the resources to operate any of these? They have Syrians in their ranks that could have the knowledge - or Daesh can hire technical expertise to repair, arm, fly, and maintain.

[Below] This video appeared 23-Aug 2014 showing Assad forces still in control of Tabqa AB. Presumably, the bulk of flyable machines were flown out before the base was overrun. A tiny ISIS Air Force is possible - but right now not probable.

21-Oct 2014: SyAAF L-39 hit by rebel ATGM at Aleppo airport.

However the SyAAF is down - but not out. Video from around May 2014:
Below is a never before seen cockpit video of a SyAAF MiG-23MF or ML.

[Below] New photo of SyAAF MiG-29 have appeared. Clear photographs of these aircraft are rare:

Video of SyAAF MiG-25. That the regime is able to keep this aircraft flying is a surprise to western observers. The MiG-25 and the F-15 look similar (read: nearly identical) in the air.

[Below] This video was widely distributed. ISIS/L hill position in Kobani Syria hit by allied air as the Kurds look on (note absence of insensant chanting of "Allahu Akbar"). ISIS/L will not prevail in the face of coalition or US air power. The Daesh as a fighting force on the ground - is doomed.

US-Navy/DOD released video 21-Oct 2014. Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17:

[Below] 21-Oct 2014: Previously never before seen photo of SyAAF MiG-29As
 [Below] 28-Oct 2014: Kobani, Syria.

02-Nov 2014: [ACIG] ISIS/L is pushing towards Tiyas Air Base.
[Below] The concern is if fighting and/or ISIS reaches the antiquities at Palmyra.
03-Dec 2014: USAF F-16C from 77FS/20FW is the first operational combat loss. Pilot KIA. Where it crashed is being withheld.

[Below] 15-Jan 2015: First recorded footage of an American A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft reportedly over Albukamal in the 'Sina'a' district Syria.

Your Thoughts?

#Russia, #Syria, #Turkey

- All media found here is for scholarship and research purposes and protected under U.S. Internet ‘Fair Use’ Law -


  1. Assad's Air Force has reportedly received 6 MiG-31s from Russia.


    I don't think this is a game changer anyway possible (as this article will state), but if true then this move is more psychology than a military tactic by the Russians.


    1. Hi. Yes we remain dubious of this report - likely propaganda to attempt to counter a “no fly zone” over Syria. The truth will be evident soon enough. If true and piloted by Russians - then this could be a big (huge) problem.
      - Boresight

    2. Well someone has to stop the USA from destroying Syria

    3. Well, Assad and ISIS are doing a very good job. His (this) war is a utter catastrophe - needs to stopped. It will be interesting to see how this develops - and what the Russians end up doing. We predicted if the Kremlin figures out the Americans real plan will be to hit Assad (new republican president) they would act. The American are not (not) good at post-military-intervention outcomes (so we don’t know how to do it) – except to occupy. The US will knockout Assad then fumble the whole thing (whole country) to ISIS. All the Syrians the Americas were trying to save - will just die at the hands of ISIS. Look what the US is allowing to happen to the Kurds via Turkey. I’d tell the Turks – stop all PPK attacks or will shoot you down. They are a NATO member. What it shows is the limits of US combat power because we need the Turkish airbases so badly. The Kurds are not Wahhabi-Jihadist - so they need to stay put (and not be attacked by a NATO member). Its the worst US foreign policy we’re ever seen.

      - Boresight

  2. Dear Obrescia, I appreciate your warning style against undervaluiation of "no-usa or western" assets. Even if ther is no assurance, blind undervaluation could create uncareful decisions by policymakers.
    This kind of warnings are very valuable and useful when we observe nato airplanes and tanks having trips just next russian european borders.
    Syrian air campaign could tell something that goes in your direction too.


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