Russia Is Changing Tactics In Syria?

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Russia Is Changing Tactics In Syria?

By Valentin Vasilescu; Translated by Alice Decker; Submited via Algora Blog

By January 10, 2017, Russia had deployed more Su-25 SM3 fighter bombers in Syria and withdrawn four Su-24 Ms. This is a signal that Russia is changing tactics in combating Islamist terrorism. [SF editor: The Russian naval battle group led by Admiral Kuznetsov heavy aircraft-carrying missile cruiser has been also withdrawn] The Su-25 has been modernized in multiple stages, resulting in the models Su-25 SM/SM2/SM3, with the latest modernization taking place beginning in 2013. The Russian Air Force has about 150 of the upgraded Su-25 aircraft (SM3/UBM2), along with another 120 non-upgraded Su-25s. The aircraft is powered by two RD-195 engines, with a thrust of 4,500 kgf, and has a maximum speed of 975 km/h.

Russia Is Changing Tactics In Syria?

Interestingly, at the time they attempted to impose a ceasefire in Syria, on February 27, 2016, Russia withdrew from Syria almost all the fifteen Su-25SM3s. As the fighter jets were over 20 years old and had each had over 200 flying hours in Syria, they were sent to Russian aviation repair shops for inspection. This is a part of  testing military equipment and train the Russian military under field conditions, with a view to defending against a NATO invasion of Russia [1].

What is the nature of Russia’s change in tactics in fighting Islamișt terrorists in Syria? Until now, Russia has attacked targets in Syria using cruise missiles launched from submarines, surface warships and long-range bombers. On the other hand, the Russian tactical bombers that operated from the Hmeymim base in Syria executed missions that were planned in advance, after unmanned reconnaissance located targets hours or days earlier. As a rule, these targets were not very mobile and were at a safe distance from civilians and the Syrian army troops. The Russian aircraft were armed with just two bombs or air-to-ground rockets, laser-beam guided by GPS and TV/IR, with the bombings executed from altitudes of 8,000–10,000m.

Russia’s change of tactics in Syria means that Russian aircraft will be tasked almost exclusively with close support missions (CAS — close air support) in order to create breaches in the Islamist rebels’ defense that will permit the swift advance of Syrian troops. Now, the Su-25 SM3 is the best suited aircraft for such missions. Most close support missions will be carried out at night, without timely, detailed information from unmanned reconnaissance drones, and will consist of lengthy patrols at high altitudes in areas located over territory held by Islamists rebels, using the “target hunting” approach. Once a target is identified, the pilot initiates the procedure for attacking it.

However, close support missions require perfect coordination in time and space with the military on the ground, which entails the use of Russian officers specializing in routing Su-25 MTS aircraft and firsthand target identification from the ground up. First, they identify the position of the pilots carrying out close support, by radio and, what is obligatory at night, by an invisible laser beam device that is detected by optical sensors onboard the Russian aircraft. Then the flight controller/targeting officer [NATO: Forward Air Controller; US: Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC)] uses the same instrument to mark with a laser beam the target that is to be hit. This provides the maximum accuracy in hitting moving targets like Toyota trucks armed with machine guns or sniper teams and rebel support bases located in the lower floors of buildings.

Russia Is Changing Tactics In Syria?

American soldiers with the 173rd battle company, on a battalian-wide mission in the korengal valley, Afghanistan.
Through night-vision goggles: JTAC Kevin Caroon, 28, ‘sparkles’ a target for the AC130 pilots above as he helps control close air support fire from above Yakachina village while on a mission with Battle company in the Korengal Valley. JTACs are Airforce-trained specialists in direct contact with the bomber pilots to call in airstrikes on certain targets while weighing and monitoring collateral damage potential. Captain Dan Kearney, the JTACs, and certain intelligence and communication specialists work as a team from afar but with a bird’s eye view to help infantry troops on the ground. October 2007.

The electro-optical SOLT-25 system (with laser, TV and IR sensors) mounted in the nose supports the FLIR [forward-looking infrared] and the GLONASS navigation systems, for seeking and identifying targets from high altitudes for night strikes. For attacking targets, the Su-25 SM3 has the PrNK-25SM Bars navigation/attack suite for central fire control, using the SOLT-25 electro-optical system and a rangefinder with a laser marking instrument to direct precision weaponry. In the process of “target hunting,” guided bombs or small arms are rarely used, with unguided rockets and onboard cannon most often preferred. The SM3 Su-25 has a double-barreled GSh-30-2 type rotary cannon, 30 mm caliber firing at a rate of 2000 rounds/minute, using incendiary/armor piercing projectiles, incendiary/explosives and AP-T projectiles (Armour-Piercing Tracers) with a tungsten core.

The Su-25 SM3 has ten mounting points in the wings and fuselage which can take extra tanks and guns weighing 4340 kg. When “target hunting,” the Su-25 SM3 is equipped with eight to ten UB-32/57 blocks, each armed with thirty-two S-5M/K reactive projectiles (57mm caliber), or B-8M1, B-13L, PU-O-25 rocket pods, armed with rockets of 80mm, 122mm and 266mm caliber. An attack consists of launching a salvo of cannon projectiles or reactive projectiles at a dive angle of 15–30 degrees, from heights of 1000–3000m. The “target hunting” approach makes it possible to execute several attacks on different targets.

However, while they are much more effective than bombing runs planned in advance, close air support missions are extremely risky, as below the altitude of 5,000m all aircraft are vulnerable to MANPADS, and below 3,000m they are vulnerable to heavy machine guns and to 12.7mm, 14.5mm, 23mm and 30mm caliber cannons, which are in the possession of the Islamist rebels. The Russian Su-25 fighter jet is the equivalent of the American A-10, both having titanium armor weighing in at 500 kg, with a thickness of 15–30mm, which resists 23mm-caliber projectiles and carbon fiber projectiles (which produces fragmentation).

To protect against surface-to-air missiles, the Su-25 SM3 is equipped with the Vitebsk-25 system, similar to the Spectra ESM one seen on the French Rafale fighters. It locks in on the aircraft based on the enemy radar, calculates its azimuth and the type of aircraft, and after that jams the signals on many frequencies, using the L-370-3S integrated system. The Vitebsk-25 also protects the Sukhoi-25 SM3 against IR- and laser-guided missiles, including ground-to-air missiles (MANPADs), using the APP-50 passive jamming subsystem that generates infrared decoy flares.

[1]. Who Forced Russia to Intervene in Syria? (http://www.algora.com/Algora_blog/?p=163).

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  • Akm

    well i hope we can see the effectiveness of such change in tactic in the battles of the Syrian dessert

  • Simon Abruzzo

    been waiting for this for a long time, A-10’s rip everything apart in close support, so will 25’s

  • SnowCatzor

    Probably a better idea, the Su-24’s are getting quite dated now anyway. Russia should withdraw them and build more Su-34’s asap.

    • Pavel Pavlovich

      Yeah, but deep modernization program that is cheap also exists for the Su-24.

      But as this article rightfully states this is about CAS now, and sending your best
      ground attack aircrafts is the only logical thing to do in such a case.
      The Su-24 is a tactical bomber, so is the Su-34 (among other things).

    • christianblood

      Not yet! The tried and tested Su-24 is a great tactical bomber with speed and maneuverability which cannot be ignored.

      • Pavel Pavlovich

        They have already build 100 or more Su-34 for the Aerospace Forces,
        the Su-24 is being phased out slowly. And you can see why, the design is
        obsolete.

    • VGA

      The su-24 is the backbone of the russian tactical bomber fleet and it is the main workhorse in the syrian campaign. It gets the job done efficiently.

    • Bob

      No. The Su-25 is a tactical multi role aircraft, short range bomber, but also CAS capable, these by definition are slow, bulky with the ordnance carrying capabilities, monstrously armored and able to loiter over an area for extended periods. The air frame is not necessarily obsolete, the avionics perhaps are getting a needed overhaul, but the parameters of a CAS airframe are relatively developed and known – there are only limited advances to be made for the substantial development costs of new specialized airframe. The issue and value of ‘next gen’ F-35 types as do-it-all airframes including CAS is yet to be observed and determined. The Su-25’s are not the sexiest jets in RuAF inventory, but are the actual proven combat workhorses, blunt and effective specialized weapons systems.

  • Charan John

    I believe some CAS would be well received and appreciated in deir Ez Zoor about now. I mean hurry up already.

  • Ronald

    Russia instead of being hypnotized by the Yankies “war games” up in Poland , should win by not reacting , but rather acting . A German style “Blitz” down in Deir Azzor , taking not only the lost ground , including the mountain the Yanks bombed , but the oil fields as well , north and south . ISIS does not deserve one drop of that oil , stop ignoring the financial realities . The Obama folks were always complaining about Russia not attacking ISIS , prove them wrong . By not reacting in Europe , Russia wins , shore-up the south in Syria instead .

  • Byzantines

    Don t expect nothing from Russia until Putin remove the last Yeltsin minister from the foreign ministry department the Atlanticists Sergey Lavrov.

    • Aeneas Georg

      Sorry, but I don’t see Lavrov as being an Atlanticist. He has been great at blunting all the weapons thrown at Russia on the diplomatic front.

      • ruca

        He pushes this BS everywhere he posts.

        • Byzantines

          Go to lick the Yankess @ss together with your ludicrous
          idol .Have you see somthing like that servility with other foreign ministers ???https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/88b2f8e32cd535d95403e1de49938416bab468f6d136f4cf440d15d5ec4e6a60.jpg

        • Spunkyhunk

          It is not BS. The foreign policy of the Putin-Lavrov team is full of weaknesses and errors. The war in Syria could have been over months ago with a government victory, if they hadn’t pulled out Russian military assets in February 2016; actually INVITED U.S. and Turkish forces into Syrian territory to “fight terrorism together” (!); and forced all those stupid ceasefires and “negotiations” in the middle of successful offensives. Now, for STARTERS, the heroic soldiers and civilians of Deir-Ez-Zor may end up getting slaughtered like chickens within a few days, as a result of all this idiotic clowning and cowardliness. STOP being mindless personality cultists!

      • Byzantines

        Sergey Lavrov everytime when Russians and allies advance in the battlefields in Syria or in the Donbass will be there with some suspicious ceasefire to save the enemies and to let the mission unaccomplished.He is a dinosaur from the losers diplomats in the Yeltsin era who see Westerns with inferiority complex after the defeat of USSR.Putin has to replace him with a new generation of diplomat like Maria Zacharova fx.

  • Trustin Judeau

    Russia needs to change its tactics or get out of Syria.First of all dont sign useless ceasefires.Second of all Putin should fire Lavrov.He is loser and he cant be foreign minister.Third of all help the SAA more.

    • Byzantines

      Agree ,some idiots here still believe that Lavrov is a master of diplomacy.

      • Spunkyhunk

        These idiots will NEVER learn until the enemy actually shows up on their own doorstep or computer-basement entrance, one day. They are not critical thinkers capable of objective logical evaluation, but rather mindless followers and “leader”-worshippers – even when the policies of the “leaders” they worship demonstrably suck!

  • Bob

    This suggests beginning to clean out Idlib may on the cards as next major SAA strategic movements.

  • Hisham Saber

    Good article, but needs to lose the word ‘Islamist’. The ‘terrorists’ and ‘rebels’ are hardly Muslim. Why does a terror attack etc perpetrated by a Muslim nut job/s have to mean Islamic terror? Why then does it not apply to Jews and Christians who go on a rampage, or commit terror? By using ‘Islamist terror’, the author is playing right into the Mossad playbook and Jewish propaganda.

    The Syrian Army, Hezbollah are Muslim and Christian. So are the IRGC are Muslim, but not terrorists.

    Sigh.

    • Spunkyhunk

      On the contrary, the terrorists and rebels are true, dyed-in-the-wool, fanatical Muslim jihadis. Your attempt to exonerate and whitewash Islamism and Islamists is pathetic, laughable, and self-defeating. YOU may be defining YOURSELF as a “moderate, non-terrorist Muslim”, or whatever; but you do NOT speak for other, fanatical Muslims – and DEFINITELY not for the jihadis. So STOP trying to defend and absolve Islam and Islamists, loser!

      • Hisham Saber

        You sound juvenile and simple minded. Islam does not have a monopoly bon terrorism you moron. Take that crazed guy from Norway who massacred 60 innocent people who was Christian. Did the press call him a Christian terrorist, even though he stated his aim was to ‘kill foreigners’.. Or how about Timothy Mc Veigh who was Christian who blew up the Oklahoma office building, killing and maiming hundreds? Did he get called a Christian terrorist?

        Or how about the Jewish Israeli army who terrorize innocent Palestinian civilians night and day, in essence perpetrating genocide and ethnic cleansing. Are they called Jewish terrorists? David Ben Gorin bvlew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem , killing many innocent civilians, only to later become the first President of Israel. He was also known to be the ‘father of the car bomb’.

        These jihadis, as you say, and fanatics, are effectively non-Muslim the moment they start doing what they do. They are misguided, brainwashed individuals who follow a twisted ideology of Wahhabism. Btw, this said ideology has many similarities to another twisted ideology, Zionism. Both kill in the name of religion. Israeli jews destroy 1400 year old Muslim cemeteries in Jerusalem, ISIS destroyes ancient Palmyra. ISIS believe homosexuals should be destroyed, Old Testament of the Jews says homosexuals should be destroyed. Both ISIS and Jews believe they are favored by God, and deserve to rule over everybody else.

        So, while you sit there in your mothers basement, alternating between watching porn and commenting on this site, think about what I have enlightened you with.

        • Hisham Saber
          • Spunkyhunk

            I’m not a Bible thumper either, Mr. Substandard Microbrain…go back and live in one of your Islamic paradises like Saudia or Pakistania.

          • Hisham Saber

            Na, I’ll stay in my country, the good ole U.S. of A.

          • Spunkyhunk

            No, you need to fuck off and go live with your Arab Muslim brothers, you stinking bullcrap-spouting Islamic apologist keyboard cowboy.

          • Hisham Saber

            your laughable. juvenile too.

          • Spunkyhunk

            And you’re an Islamic apologist punk living where he shouldn’t be. Go live in Libya or Saudi Arabia, idiot.

          • Hisham Saber

            Your mother is a punk for contaminating the world with the likes of you.

          • Spunkyhunk

            Insulting my mother, ha, you piece of shit? I’ll kill you for that.

            I open your pig mother’s burka and fuck her. Your sister, too.

            Go back to Libya, you rat. Gaddafi should have killed the lot of you sewer rats.

          • Hisham Saber

            Some jew fucked your mother in the ass, and she got pregnant with you. You asshole baby.

          • Spunkyhunk

            If women could get pregnant by being fucked in the ass, then your mom, your sisters, and all the women of your family would have had multiple kids by me by now, you subhuman Arab Muslim cockroach. Get off this website and slither back to the Libyan rats website, where you belong.

          • Hisham Saber

            Southfront is a website that brings us news about the Syrian Arab Army, Muslim Hezbollah and allies, IRGC (muslims) kick ass. I’m here because I’m Muslim and Arab, why are you here, troll? Your like Aquatertoseven, trolling around posing as a pro-Syria ally. You disgusting hypocrite. Shame on you. Fuck you and your Jewish Israel.

          • Spunkyhunk

            You are nothing but a loudmouthed little Libyan Islamist pipsqueak apologist living in the U.S., where you somehow crawled into. If you’re so much on the side of “the Syrian Arab Army, Muslim Hezbollah and allies, IRGC”, then what the fuck are you doing in the U.S., their main enemy, moron? Why don’t you go join the Syrian army, which needs manpower? Because you’re a little COWARD, that’s why. And what’s with all the idiotic “Trump-equals-Hitler” photos?

            I support the Syrian government and army because they have a secular-nationalistic-socialistic background; are multiconfessional, protective of non-Muslim minorities, and independent-minded of globalists; and are allies of Russia – not because they are “Muslim Arabs”. The jihadis fighting to overthrow the Syrian government, and their backers Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Erdogan-regime Turkey etc., are all SUNNI MUSLIMS who want to regime-change the Syrian government because of its secular-socialistic origin – and they are ALLIED WITH ISRAEL AND U.S. ANGLO-ZIONISTS against Syria. How about that, you “Muslim Arab” idiot?

            “I’m here because I’m Muslim and Arab, why are you here, troll?”

            I’m here because I’m NOT Muslim and Arab, you little pipsqueak “troll” LOL!

            You worthless Muslim Arab trash lack logic, the ability to reason properly, and any basic consistency in thinking – that’s why the Israelis have been kicking your ass for the last 70+ years. So go FUCK YOURSELF, peanut-brain!

        • Spunkyhunk

          You are nothing more than an idiotic apologist for Islam and Islamic terrorists. (Oh and by the way, I didn’t say that Islamic terrorism is the ONLY kind that can exist, you logically-challenged peanut-brain). Go read some history and be HONEST. I bet you’re one of the “Islam is peace” CAIR moron types. No sense wasting time arguing with someone of like you – get lost!

          P.S.: The jihadis – you know, those REAL Islamic lads – don’t agree with you about Islam you little wanker. You and your assertions count for NOTHING.

          • Hisham Saber

            Your laughable. Your calling of names is simply grasping for straws. Go to the back yard of your moms house a dig a 6×6 ft hole. Then jump in.

          • Spunkyhunk

            Get lost Muslimo Apologisto… Jihadis, imams and Saudis decide what Islam is; NOT little weasely trash punks like you.

          • Spunkyhunk

            “With someone OF YOUR ILK”….typo!

  • John Whitehot

    the SU-25 in its latest iterations is a formidable plane, imho though it would very much benefit from a targeting pod like the Litening or the Sniper. Even having to operate at higher altitudes due to the MANPADS threat, the nose mounted optics often do not have the necessary gimbal freedom needed to designate and track targets while overflying them. In substance, the pilot needs to position the target area in front of the plane, then search, acquire and engage targets, in an arc of time that remains limited. Once the area is overflown, the pilot needs to maneuver around and repeat the above, with the possible exception of the search phase (designated targets coordinates can be saved on the onboard nav-attack system). Having a device able to stay pointed on targets no matter the relative position of the aircraft, with the possibility to cue and zoom the optics at different angles would give the CAS planes a real multiplier of effectiveness. It would also allow them to perform all the search and acquisition phases while staying clear of the dangerous areas (suspected manpads or aaa threats), and then perform the attack run already having a detailed picture of the battlefield. Russian industries already developed such a targeting pod some years ago, although idk if it’s been already put into serial production. In any case, if it were available, it would get some priceless technical and operational data from testing in the Syrian theatre.