Russia is sending heavy bombers to Syria. Why is this important?

WASHINGTON, (BM) – Most recently, photos appeared on social networks, according to which a pair of Russian Tu-22M3 bombers appeared in the sky over Syria and landed at the Russian airbase there, Khmeimim.

Such information is not uncommon, as the Russian aerospace forces have been operating these aircraft for years in the Syrian civil war. But their use so far has been mainly associated with sporadic involvement in specific bombings and their return to Moscow. The need of the Russian Air Force for bombers in the skies over Syria is not palpable, as it is open only to them, and some of the fighters in Kmeimim have repeatedly taken over the functions of the Russian bombers.

The question now is whether Moscow does not plan to secretly deploy Russian bombers at Khmeimim and secure complete control of the skies and the unequivocal support of Russian ground forces.

A similar thesis was developed by the American military analyst Thomas Newdick, who was impressed by the chariots of the bombers over Syria, which locate at broader points of the bomber.

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For some, this may be insignificant information. The problem is that the Russian bombers have experienced serious confrontation during takeoff and landing on the small airfield of Khmeimim. However, Moscow has made a serious investment.

In recent months, major construction work has been carried out on one of the runways at Khmeimim Air Base. In the end, some images found that it was extended by a little over 300 meters, and so its total length changed to 3,200 meters. This clarification is necessary because the new distances allow long deployment and Tu series bombers in Khmeimim.

The information about the long-term deployment of Russian bombers may turn out to be accurate, as Russia is preparing the latest state tests of the updated version of the Tu-22M3M. According to sources, this fighter is already in Syria.

However, the extended runway allows the use of other types of fighters, such as the Tu-160. All this will allow Moscow to control the skies over Syria and the takeoff of a supersonic bomber to a different but distant destination from Syria. For example, Libya, Nagorno-Karabakh, including in a conflict with Japan in the Indo-Pacific region.

Another reason why it assumes that Moscow will locate permanent bombers in Syria is their principle of operation. So far, Russian fighters, as we have mentioned, have taken over the functions of the bombers. But the fighters are primarily designed to use different air-to-air and air-to-ground missiles instead of free-falling bombs, as bombers often do.

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The Russians would have much more destructive power and strength against jihadists, pro-Turkish militias, and coalition partners if they began to use their fighters for their intended purpose, especially in places where a real bomber had previously bombed them.

A third reason Russia will want to deploy bombers permanently in Syria is Moscow’s ability to strengthen its air capabilities in the Mediterranean. In this way, Russia will ensure the provision of greater military power on NATO’s southern flank and strategic control around North Africa.


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