On June 15, a defense observer on Twitter known as Obretix released a satellite image revealing that the Russian Aerospace Forces had deployed at least four Su-25 warplanes in the strategic T-4 airbase in central Syria.
four Russian Air Force Su-25 which were deployed to T-4 Airbase earlier this year https://t.co/Dmh14OuZQB Mil Mi-24 and Mi-8 helicopters and a Forpost drone are visible as well on this satellite image from 14 May 2019 pic.twitter.com/m7tdLTMGU2
— Samir (@obretix) June 15, 2019
The Su-25 Grach is a single-seat, twin-engine, close air support warplane developed by Sukhoi. The warplane’s latest upgrade, the Su-25sm3, is equipped with the advanced tactical EW suite Vitebsk-25, the SOLT-25 day\night electro-optical targeting system, a new encrypted communications system and an updated navigation system.
Obertix’s image also showed one Russian Forpost unnamed aerial vehicle (UAV). Forpost is a is a licensed copy of the Israeli IAI Searcher reconnaissance UAV, with an operation range of 200km and an endurance of around 18 hours.
It remains unclear if the Su-25s and the UAV were redeployed from the Hmeimim airbase on the Syrian coast, or if they are a new batch that arrived from Russia recently.
The deployment at the T-4 airbase would allow the Su-25s to provide Syrian Arab Army (SAA) troops in eastern Homs and western Deir Ezzor with close air support in the case of any attack by ISIS. The warplanes can also reach the frontlines around Idlib from the airbase.