Pentagon Has No ‘Plan B’ If Russian-American Talks on Syria in Geneva Fail

Smoke rises from the northeastern city of Hasaka, Syria, August 21, 2016


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and US State Secretary John Kerry may meet for talks in Geneva later this week with the goal of setting up some sort of intelligence sharing agreement in order to coordinate strikes against Daesh; however Pentagon says it has no Plan B in case the talks fail.

Sergei Lavrov and John Kerry might meet for talks in Geneva on August 26-27. However the meeting has not yet been confirmed by either of the parties.

Meanwhile, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said at his press briefing on Monday that the US Department of Defense has no Plan B in case the negotiations fail and “continues to focus on Plan A.”

Neither is it going to “put a calendar deadline on it”, the press secretary added.

Cook however said that the US has “not finalized plans with Russia on potential coordinated efforts.”

“Serious issues must first be resolved before we can implement the steps Secretary Kerry and Minister Lavrov discussed in Moscow last month. We are not there yet and the regime and Russia’s recent actions only make it harder to consider any potential coordination.”

The Pentagon also reiterated the US warnings to the Syrian and Russian jets to keep away from American positions in Syria in the wake of Syrian Air Force sortie to the Syrian city of Hasakah. Despite the warning that the US could open fire, Syrian jets risked confrontation by flying a bombing sortie over this area.

“And that is an area in which we’ve been active. We’ve been clear about that. And so, we’re going to continue to defend our forces in that area. We’re going to tell the Syrians and anyone else who may threaten our forces in that area, we will defend them. And they have a right to defend themselves as well.”

“We’ve said repeatedly that we will protect coalition forces as needed in Syria, and I think we demonstrated that last week. And I’m not going to get into the specific of our air operations, but we will continue to do that. We will use our air power as needed to protect coalition forces in our partnered operations,” he added.

When asked about the difference between the above warning and the introduction of a no-fly zone, the press secretary said that “the distinction here is that we’re going to defend our forces where they are.”

“And we’re not going to tell you exactly where they are, but we have been operating in that area in particular. We made that clear to the Syrian regime last week, through our — the Russians, through our memorandum of understanding.”He repeated that the US is going to provide air cover and air support to “their forces” on the ground wherever they may be.

“We’re not going to disclose where they are at any particular time. We did indicate that they were in that particular area — had been operating there previously — and that’s why we provided that particular warning for that area. But I’m not going to disclose where our forces are in Syria at any particular time.”

However the press secretary avoided answering the question whether “the Syrian regime has the right to fly over its territory”.

Sukhoi Su-34 plane nicknamed ‘Duckling:’ Russian Aerospace Force’s best bomber

August 23, 14:00 UTC+3
Unique aerial surveying and combat capabilities of Russia’s advanced warplane

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Sukhoi Su-34 plane nicknamed ‘Duckling:’ Russian Aerospace Force’s best bomber

The Chkalov Aircraft-Making Enterprise in Novosibirsk in west Siberia has rolled out the 100th Su-34 (NATO reporting name: Fullback) fighter-bomber, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced on his Facebook page on August 19. 


The first contract for the delivery of Su-34 combat planes was signed with the Russian Defense Ministry in 2008. Four years later, the advanced fighter-bomber entered service with Russia’s Aerospace Force. As Commander-in-Chief of Russia’s Aerospace Force Viktor Bondarev said earlier, the Su-34 will eventually replace Su-24 (Fencer) frontline bombers and Su-25 (Frogfoot) attack aircraft. The Russian Aerospace Force is expected to receive no less than 200 Su-34 fighter-bombers under the state armament program through 2020.

The Russian air task force is successfully using these warplanes in an operation in Syria against militants of the Islamic State (terrorist organization outlawed in Russia).


Why ‘Duckling’?

The aircraft features a standard aerodynamic layout with an additional foreplane, a trapezoidal midwing, twin vertical tails, two AL-31F engines in the fuselage’ rear and tricycle landing gear.

The crew comprises a pilot and a navigator sitting side by side in an armored cockpit. The cockpit can be accessed through a lower hatch by climbing the footsteps.

Commander of a Su-34 air wing, Captain Alexei Belonog who has logged almost a thousand flight hours and mastered four types of aircraft told TASS on the eve of Military Aviation Day that precisely the Su-34 fighter bomber was an indisputable favorite for him.

And, by the way, it is pure truth that the advanced fighter-bomber is gently called the ‘Duckling’ in the troops due to its flat-shaped nose cone. I don’t see anything bad in this Alexei Belonog commander of a Su-34 air wing, captain

The Su-34 is a favorite plane among many pilots as it features a spacious and comfortable cockpit and excellent flight characteristics. “Of course, it is not designed for aerobatics but it can also experience overloads of up to 7.5G [overloads experienced by pilots when they perform aerobatic maneuvers],” the pilot said.


Three in one

The Su-34 two-seat frontline bomber is capable of operating equally efficiently day and night and in any weather conditions. The Su-34 dubbed as Fullback under NATO classification is designed to deliver missile and bomb strikes against ground objectives and destroy an enemy’s aerial targets.

The Su-34 is a unique machine. It incorporates as many as three planes: a fighter jet, an attack aircraft and a frontline bomber. The Su-34 can successfully fight any aerial objectives and effectively destroy ground and surface targets. Moreover, it can stay endlessly long in the air and this duration can only be limited by pilots’ physical ability
Viktor Litovkin TASS military observer

The Su-34, which is a modified version of the Su-27 (Flanker) fighter aircraft, has been developed by the Sukhoi design bureau under the guidance of its chief designer Rollan Martirosov. The fighter bomber has been serial produced at the Novosibirsk-based Aircraft-Making Enterprise since 2006.

The Su-34 performed its debut flight in 1990 (the prototype aircraft T-10V-1 was piloted by USSR honored test pilot Anatoly Ivanov).

The Su-34 was developed for promptly redeploying it for missions from any parts of the country to its border to reliably seal off a possible armed conflict before the arrival of the main forces.

Even before the plane entered service, a crew of test pilots from the Sukhoi design bureau performed a non-stop flight from Moscow to Sakhalin in the Russian Far East and back with aerial refueling, thus proving to all those in doubt that the fighter is capable of accomplishing any missions at the farthest distance from its home airfield Viktor Litovkin TASS military observer

All conditions have been created in the Su-34 for this. As compared to other fighter jets, the crew is accommodated side by side in the cockpit rather than one after the other.

“There is space between them where a matrass can be spread and one of the crewmembers can have a rest during a flight,” the military expert said. Besides, the space behind the pilots’ seats allows them to stand up to their full height.

There is a microwave oven, an air conditioner, an electromassage system built into the pilots’ seats and even a bio toilet aboard the bomber. If you get to know that such arrangement can’t be found aboard not only fighter jets but also long-range bombers and even Ilyushin Il-76 military-transport planes, then you can only be surprised once again at the uniqueness of the Su-34
Viktor Litovkin TASS military observer

The Su-34 is capable of flying in the auto pilot mode at extremely low altitudes, skirting the terrain. In Litovkin’s opinion, none of the fighter jets in the world, including the well-advertised US F-22 and F-35 aircraft, can feature “these capabilities.”

The available second radar for observing the rear hemisphere is also the plane’s unique feature: the system will warn the crew of a threat and can retaliate with a salvo of missiles to an attempt by an enemy’s aircraft “to strike in the back.”


Plane’s characteristics

According to data from open sources, the Su-34 is 23.3 meters long and 6.4 meters high and has a wing span of 14.7 meters. The plane has a service ceiling of 14,650 meters and a flying range of 4,500 kilometers without refueling and 7,000 kilometers with refueling. The Su-34 fighter bomber has a mission radius of up to 1,100 km. The plane has a take-off weight of 45.1 tons and a combat load weight of 8 tons. The plane can develop a speed of up to 1,900 km/h.

The Su-34 is armed with a 30mm gun and its 12 hardpoints can carry various types of air-to-air and air-to-surface aircraft-launched missiles, rockets and air bombs.


Foreign customers’ interest

The interest of foreign customers in Russian planes, especially Su-34 fighter bombers, has increased after the Russian air task force’s operation in Syria. In particular, this interest has been displayed by some countries in the Middle East.

No doubt, the interest has increased. I want to say that dozens of [state arms exporter] Rosoboronexport’s delegations are on foreign trips every week and there is a very intensive process of negotiations with countries of the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Asia and so forth Sergei Goreslavsky Rosoboronexport deputy CEO

In 2015, Rosoboronexport initiated the preparation of an export configuration certificate for the Su-34. In 2016, an expected contract with Algeria may be signed on the delivery of frontline bombers.

Negotiations on this issue are already under way and have progressed while a contract has not been signed yet.

The Algerian side has long expressed its desire to buy Su-34 planes but there was no export configuration certificate for this machine before. Now it is available. I believe the contract will surely be signed in mid-2016 or before the end of the year
A source in the defense industry


Geography of use

Russia’s Su-34 planes accomplished combat missions for the first time during the war in South Ossetia in 2008. The fighter bombers were used to provide cover for attack aircraft, conducting electronic warfare against Georgian air defense systems with the use of the Khibiny jamming station.

The Su-34 fighter bombers conducted jamming from the warplanes’ combat formations, preventing Georgian air defense systems from successful jammer out-tuning, and also destroyed a key radar near Gori by an anti-radar missile.

Since 2015, the Su-34 fighter-bomber has been frequently shown in video footage on television channels reporting about the Russian air task force’s operation in Syria. Military specialists, numerous experts and analysts watch with interest its successful performance.

Su-34 planes flew sorties not only with OFAB-500 and adjustable KAB-500 air bombs but also with air-to-air short- and medium-range missiles.

The Su-34’s weapons suite includes R-73 (NATO reporting name: AA-11 Archer) short-range and R-27 (AA-10 Alamo) medium-range air-to-air missiles.

The Su-34 fighter-bomber can carry up to six R-73 missiles in launchers placed at the aircraft’s wingtips or under the wings and up to eight R-27 missiles that can be mounted on ejector racks or launchers both under the wing and on underfuselage hardpoints.

The Su-34 planes were used for the first time in the spring of 2016 to eliminate ice jams. Their mission caused the largest flooding in the past 20 years on the Severnaya Dvina River in the Vologda and the Arkhanglesk Regions. The bombers performed two sorties each, dropping eight bombs with a total weight of 4 tons.

On August 16, the Su-34 fighter-bombers took off for the first time from Iran’s Hamadan airfield to deliver a strike against militants in Syria. The sortie also involved Russian Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bombers. They dealt a blow against the objectives of the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra groupings (terrorist organizations outlawed in Russia) in the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor and Idlib.


The video footage is based on the aerial survey of the Su-34 plane made by operators of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Voeninform Agency


Iran plans negotiations with Russia on purchase of Sukhoi fighters

TEHRAN, August 22. /TASS/. Iran will not need additional air defense systems after getting from Russia the S-300 anti-aircraft missile defense systems and commissioning Iran’s similar system Bavar (Belief) 373. Therefore, Iran’s Ministry of Defense intends to focus on negotiations with Russia on the purchase of the Sukhoi aircraft, Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan told Iran’s TV on Sunday evening.

“We don’t need other long-range air defense systems, (in addition to the S-300 and Bavar-373), we no longer plan to purchase them. Therefore, the Iranian Defense Ministry’s agenda includes consultations with Russia on the purchase of Sukhoi aircraft. We need to strengthen our Air Force,” he said.

According to him, complex tests of the Bavar-373 air defense missile system will be held in the near future. “At the request of the President (of Iran Hassan Rouhani), the first test will be intercepting a ballistic missile. If the tests prove successful, the system will go into serial production, and its combat deployment will begin before the end of the year”, the minister said.

On Sunday, Tehran hosted an exhibition of achievements of the Iranian defense industry. The exhibition for the first time presented to the general public the Bavar 373 system, which, according to Iranian sources, is an analogue of Russia’s S-300, as well as Iran’s first national turturbojet engine that has been named Owj.

Iran had signed a contract with Russia on the supply of the S-300 missile defense systems in 2007. However, its implementation was suspended after the United Nations Security Council passed on June 9, 2010 resolution 1929 which banned the transfer of any state-of-the-art weapons, including missile and missile systems, to Teheran. In April 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin lifted the ban on supplies of S-300 systems to Iran and the contract was resumed in November 2015.

The contract will be implemented by the year end, according to Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Russia’s state corporation Rostec.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said previously Russia had fulfilled 50% of its liabilities under the contract.


Russian Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov claimed that the Russian Defence Ministry would continue humanitarian operation aiding the population of the Aleppo city

Russian Defence Ministry jointly with the Syrian authorities continues humanitarian operation aiding the population of the Aleppo city.

The Russian Centre for reconciliation of the opposing sides delivers humanitarian cargoes in Aleppo, humanitarian corridors have been arranged for the civilians and militants, who lay down their arms, cooperation has been organized with the office of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Syria.

The Russian Defence Ministry has supported the initiative of the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Syria Staffan de Mistura concerning the introduction of 48-hour “humanitarian pauses” in combat actions in Aleppo.

On August 24, 2016, the meeting of representatives of the Russian Centre for reconciliation of the opposing sides and the head of the UN office in Damascus Steffani Curry will take place in Damascus.

The sides will achieve agreements concerning the schedule and the routes for UN humanitarian deliveries for all needy inhabitants of Aleppo.

As it is arranged with the Syrian authorities, the first 48-hour “humanitarian pause” in combat actions in Aleppo will be announced after receiving of confirmation from the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General for Syria Staffan de Mistura concerning the readiness for delivery of humanitarian cargoes to Aleppo.

The Russian Defence Ministry jointly with the Syrian authorities is ready to support the delivery of humanitarian aid from different organizations and citizens to Aleppo and distributing it through the deployed humanitarian centres.

Syrian Army Repels Daesh Attacks Near Aleppo Air Base

Syrian army's assault on southwest Aleppo


The Syrian armed forces managed to repel all attacks of the Daesh terrorists in the Kuweires region near the airbase and the air force academy, according to a military source.

ALEPPO    The Syrian army repelled attacks of the Daesh militant group near the Kuweires air base in the Aleppo region, a military source told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

“The IS terrorists attacked several army positions in the Kuweires region near the airbase and the air force academy. The army managed to repel all attacks, terrorists suffered losses in manpower,” the source said, adding that some of the IS’ military equipment was also destroyed.

The Daesh group is banned in Russia.

Ready to Compete: Is Iran’s Bavar-373 System an Answer to Russia’s S-300?



Iran has recently showcased its newest air defense missile system, Bavar-373, which features characteristics similar to Russia’s S-300, immediately prompting speculations that it is an answer to and a substitute to Russia’s systems, which have yet to be delivered to Tehran under an existing contract.

On Sunday Iranian President Hassan Rouhani unveiled the country’s long-awaited, domestically-built Bavar-373 surface-to-air missile (SAM) defense system.

The home-grown system, which was successfully test-fired in August 2014, is similar to the Russian S-300 and is capable of hitting high altitude targets.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (3rd L) and Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan (2nd L) stand in front of the new air defense missile system Bavar-373, in Tehran, Iran August 21, 2016
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (3rd L) and Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan (2nd L) stand in front of the new air defense missile system Bavar-373, in Tehran, Iran August 21, 2016

On Monday, the country’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan announced that Tehran is set to begin the mass production of its Bavar-373 air defense system once the practical tests that are expected to continue until March 2017 have been completed.

All the above has sparked speculations that the system is an answer to and a substitute to Russia’s systems, which have yet to be delivered to Tehran under an existing contract.

Mahmud Shoori, Director of Eurasia Research Group at the Center for Strategic Research (CSR), a leading Iranian think tank, has commented to Sputnik on the issue.

Technologically, he said, it is quite hard to distinguish what the two systems, Russia’s S-300 and its Iranian analogue, the Bavar-373, have in common or how they differ from each other, and if they could be used simultaneously for similar purposes or not.

However what is more important here is that the domestic development of such a system underscores that the policy of Iran’s military defense industry is aimed at satisfying all of its military needs independently and on its own, to the extent it is possible. He said Tehran is particularly interested in independently ensuring the Islamic Republic’s strategic goals, one of which is the defense of its borders.

Throughout its existence, the expert stressed, Iran has never relied on the support of other states but only on its own capabilities.

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan stand in front of the new air defense missile system Bavar-373, in Tehran, Iran August 21, 2016
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani (R) and Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan stand in front of the new air defense missile system Bavar-373, in Tehran, Iran August 21, 2016

However, he noted, Iran’s military defense complex needs an inflow of the most advanced foreign ideas and technology and operationally ready military equipment to ensure the gradual development of its military defense industry and that it is able to comply with the needs of the time.

That is why the country had signed an agreement with Russia on the delivery of its S-300 air defense systems.

“On the whole, I don’t see any problems for Iran continuing its purchase of Russian S-300 under the existing contract, while simultaneously developing and showcasing the achievements of its military defense industry,” Mahmud Shoori told Sputnik.

The top priority for Iran’s military defense complex is to maximize the independent production of its own strategic armament, he explained.

The expert, however, noted that the two systems significantly differ in quality and functionality; however, they could supplement each other.It remains to be seen how they will be used in combat – separately or together.

Back in 2007 Moscow and Tehran signed an agreement for the delivery of five battalion sets of Russian S-300 PMU1 air defense missile systems.

In 2010 Russia halted the deliveries due to a United Nations Security Council resolution imposing sanctions — which included a ban on the sale of high-tech weapons.

After the cancellation of the arms deal, Iran demanded $4 billion in compensation from the Russian state.

In April 2015, after an interim agreement that paved the way for July’s full nuclear deal was signed President Putin lifted that self-imposed ban.

Russia has already delivered the first battalion of S-300PMU-1/SA-20 Gargoyle SAM batteries to Iran.

The S-300 is a long-range SAM system, and can engage aircraft, cruise missiles and theater ballistic missiles.

One S-300 battery usually consists of an engagement radar, a low-altitude radar, and up to eight transporter erector launchers (TEL) with four launch tubes each.Each tube carries one surface-to-air missile. A battalion comprises up to six batteries in addition to a command/fire and control post, as well as an extra target acquisition radar unit.

During Iran’s annual National Day Parade in April, the Iranian military displayed a S-300 target acquisition radar unit, a radar station and a mobile radio antenna. However, no TELs or missiles were displayed.

The S-300 SAMs currently being delivered are an upgraded version of the weapons systems initially ordered by Iran in 2010.

In front of the portraits of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, and late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, left, a long-range, S-300 missile system is displayed by Iran's army during a parade marking National Army Day at the mausoleum of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, outside Tehran. file photo
© AP Photo/ Ebrahim Noroozi
In front of the portraits of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, and late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, left, a long-range, S-300 missile system is displayed by Iran’s army during a parade marking National Army Day at the mausoleum of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, outside Tehran. file photo

In July 2015, Russian Presidential Aide for military-technical cooperation Vladimir Kozhin announced that Russia would update the S-300 SAMs to meet specific Iranian needs, but didn’t offer any technical details.

Kozhin recently said that Russia will complete the delivery of S-300 air defense systems to Iran by the end of the year.

Mahmud Shoori gave a positive forecast for continuation of military-technical cooperation between Russia and Iran.

“As far as I know, our defense minister has said that Iran has currently no need for an agreement on the delivery of the advanced missile defense systems. What we already have in service and what is now being delivered by Russia is enough to satisfy the demands of our defense industry,” he told Sputnik.However, he added, the military industry does not stand still and is developing. It is highly possible that Iran is going to face new geopolitical challenges in the near future and thus will have new defense needs.

Political conditions will then dictate what Russian military technology will be of interest to Iran.

“I personally think that the military-technical cooperation between our countries is certain to continue,” he said.

“However the subject of our deals will depend on a number of factors including the further development of bilateral relations between Russia and Iran,” he added.

Russia Suggests Mechanism to Prevent Incidents Between Syrian, US Air Forces

Syrian Air Force base in Homs province


The Russian Defense Ministry has proposed to establish a mechanism to prevent incidents between the Syrian and US air forces operating in the Arab republic, media reported Tuesday.

 According to the Russian newspaper Izvestia, citing a source in the military and diplomatic circles, the increased activity of the Syrian Air Force and its Su-24M2 aircraft led to the Russian Defense Ministry’s initiative to establish a mechanism which aims to prevent any incidents between the Syrian and US aircraft, as Damascus does not have communication channels with Washington as Moscow does.

The newspaper added that the Russian initiative’s technical proposals would be a topic of discussion during the meeting between the Russian and US foreign ministers scheduled for August 26-27.

Last week, the United States contacted Moscow through a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) deconfliction channel after the Syrian Air Force had conducted airstrikes near ground forces in the vicinity of Hasakah, to ensure flight safety during combat missions over Syria.

On Monday, US Department of Defense Press Secretary Peter Cook said that the United States was prepared to communicate directly with the Syrian government to avoid another situation like the one with Hasakah.