Helicopter pilots from the Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) and the Syrian Arab Air Force (SyAAF) had held their first-ever joint exercise in the Syrian desert, Chief of Aviation of the Russian forces in Syria Andrei Yermakov told reporters on September 7.
The exercise, which took place near the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria, involved Mi-8 transport helicopters and Ka-52 attack helicopters from the VKS. The Syrian side used Mi-24 attack helicopters. The drills simulated combat conditions.
“Today we have completed the final stage of the joint exercise of Russia’s Aerospace Forces and Syria’s Air Force. The sides practiced cohesion between Syrian and Russian army aviation units during engagement of known and rapidly emerging targets in the [Syrian] Arab Republic, and tactical troop landing,” said Yermakov.
A representative of the SyAAF said such exercises are important for the Syrian pilots. “We operate Mi-24 helicopters; it is a reliable and effective air platform. We want to express our gratitude to the Russian pilots for such experience of joint work,” he added.
The exercise highlights Russia’s support for the SyAAF. Last July, 50 cadets of Syria’s Kuweires Military Aviation Institute completed their training with help from Russian instructors.
The SyAAF operates side by side with the VKS against terrorist groups in Syria. Earlier this year, Syrian and Russian began conducting joint operations against ISIS cells in central Syria, mainly along the Homs-Deir Ezzor highway.
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