Russian flying aces train new Syrian pilots in Aleppo
DAMASCUS, BM, ($1= 1,257 Syrian Pound) – About fifty cadets from the Aleppo Military Flight School are completing the first pilot course since the institute was reopened in 2018 (after the city was liberated from jihadist rebels) with the support of Russian instructors. The deputy commander of the school, General Yousef Ahmad Hassan of the Syrian Arab Air Force, announced this to the Russian news agency TASS.
“Our job is to train pilots for our armed forces, who continue to fight the police. There are territories occupied by terrorists where it is more efficient to use aviation. We know how Russian pilots work and we learn from them: we need to raise our level of training to be effective.”
According to General Hassan, the school, Syria’s only training institute for Air Force pilots and military personnel, needs to be refurbished. The pilots are still flying with old L-39 Albatros trainers, although Syrian authorities have purchased modern training simulators for the school.
The Damascus Air Force has about sixty L-39s on paper (it is not known how many of them are in operation), which are also used for ground attacks against the rebels. Syria had ordered 36 new Russian Yak-130 trainers (pictured below), which had to be delivered in 2014 to fulfill orders in 2016.
However, the duration of the conflict has prompted Moscow to use aircraft in Russia, as noted in October 2019 by the Syrian Observer, to improve the training of Syrian fighter pilots.
TASS also reports that staff shortages in the Syrian Arab Air Force have forced the flight school to also train pilots as mechanics to monitor and in some cases perform maintenance on its aircraft.
The Aleppo Flying School was founded in 1947, after Syria’s independence and during the civil war, police are trying to capture this strategically valuable facility, which has been under siege for several years.
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