The Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) deployed on January 25 an advanced Tu-214R reconnaissance aircraft in Syria.
Manu Gómez, an observer of civilian and military aviation, spotted the aircraft over the eastern Mediterranean, while it was on its way to the Hmeimim Air Base on the Syrian coast.
— Manu Gómez (@GDarkconrad) January 25, 2020
The Tu-214R, which is based on the Tu-204 airliner airframe, is an intelligence-gathering, target-accusation platform, developed to preform signal intelligence (SIGINT) and electronic intelligence (ELINT) missions.
One of the aircraft’s most important system is the MRK-411 sideways-looking synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) which is optimal for detecting objects moving overland. The system also has electronic communications intercept equipment, which can map out and identify ground-based electronic emitters, be it radar, radio, or microwave.
The aircraft is also equipped with the Fraktsiya optronic system, which is used to locate and track land targets visually day and night from long distances.
The Tu-214R was deployed in Syrian in 2016 to support a large-scale operation that led to the full liberation of Aleppo city. The aircraft helped locate militants’ positions, equipment and track their movements and gatherings.