Russia shows how its Su-35 and Ka-52 fight against terrorism

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In the first week of August, the Russian Air Force showcased its top-tier fighter and combat helicopter classes, the Su-35S and Ka-52, in joint tactical training exercises with the Syrian Arab Army. This deployment, a first for the two nations, was confirmed by the Russian Defense Ministry on August 3. 

RT screenshot

During this unprecedented exercise, the combined forces swiftly responded to a simulated incursion by militants who had occupied a civilian population center and fortified their positions. 

It’s worth mentioning that from 2015 to 2017, Russian and Syrian forces extensively carried out such operations against the Islamic State terror group and various Turkish and Western-backed Islamist militias across Syria. However, the focus of military cooperation has since transitioned towards preparations for potential conflicts with state actors. 

In recent exercises, the Russian Air Force deployed its Su-35s and Ka-52s with the mission to “destroy armored vehicles and defensive positions of the simulated terrorists.” The older Su-24M strike fighters were also dispatched for air-to-ground missions. 

On the ground, personnel from the Syrian Arab Army’s 25th Special Mission Forces Division, equipped with Russian gear, carried out operations. Some rappelled from Russian military helicopters, while others used Russian parachute systems to skydive from altitudes between 1,500 and 3,000 meters. 

Photo credit: Special-Ops

The Su-35s have a robust record of air-to-air combat, having been deployed extensively over Ukraine against a variety of fighter, drone, and helicopter classes, and used for air defense suppression. 

In 2022, the Iranian Defence Ministry, another staunch supporter of the Syrian government, ordered the Su-35 class. The Russian Air Force itself has received two new batches this year, with two more currently in production. 

Notably, the Russian Air Force’s Su-35 operations in Syria have been attracting increased attention, particularly after the fighters made close intercepts of American MQ-9 Reaper drones over the country twice in July. An interception on July 23 resulted in significant damage to the drone’s propeller, with the U.S. alleging that the Russian jet had released flares in its path. 

The Su-35s were first deployed to Syria in early 2016 as a countermeasure to potential threats from NATO aircraft to Russian counterinsurgency operations. These operations commenced in September 2015 at the request of the Syrian government for support from Moscow. 

Photo credit: Twitter

Insurgent activity continues near the Turkish and Iraqi borders under the protection of the Turkish and U.S. militaries. However, the presence of these NATO forces is considered illegal as they lack authorization from either the United Nations Security Council or Damascus to be on Syrian soil. 

It’s important to note that Turkish-backed jihadists, recruited from across Islamic countries, especially Turkic ethnic groups such as Chinese Uyghur Islamists, continue to use these border regions as launching pads for attacks on Syrian population centers and Russian military bases. These groups continue to receive substantial support from the Turkish government for their operations.

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