Russia Could Turn Hmeymim Base in Syria Into Fully-Operational Facility

Russian servicemen at the Hmeymim airbase in Syria.

 

The first deputy chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the Federation Council (the upper house of Russia’s parliament), said that Russia plans to turn the Hmeymim base in Syria into a fully operational base.

Russia plans to turn the Hmeymim base in Syria into a fully operational base, Franz Klintsevich, the first deputy chairman of the Defense and Security Committee of the Federation Council (the upper house of Russia’s parliament), said.”After an agreement on its legal status, Hmeymim will become a base of Russian armed forces, all the appropriate infrastructure will be built there and our servicemen will live in decent conditions,” Klintsevich said in an interview with the Russian Izvestia newspaper.

According to the defense official, a permanent contingent of Russian Aerospace Forces (VKS) could be based at the Hmeymim airbase, located in the northwestern Syrian Latakia province.

“The VKS unit could be increased in accordance with bilateral agreements, but so far, from the perspective of tasks at hand, the forces currently deployed there [at Hmeymim] are enough,” Klintsevich said.

He stressed that nuclear weapons and heavy bombers will not be permanently deployed at the Hmeymim base in Syria as it is against international agreements.

The Hmeymim air base began operations in September 2015, when Russia started its counter-terrorist aerial campaign against Islamic State (ISIL, also known as Daesh) jihadists, as well as other affiliated radicals, in Syria.

A Firm Syrian Commitment: Putin proposes permanent Air Force Base

 

August 9th, 2016 – Fort Russ News –
RIA – translated by J. Flores –


Editor’s note: This development which occurs on the same day as the Putin-Erdogan meeting cannot be understood out of that context. We implore our readers to ‘connect the dots’ as we build our data set and publish an overall assessment at the earliest possible time. – JF

Today (August 9th), Vladimir Putin submitted to the State Duma a proposal on the permanent deployment of the Russian air group in Syria.
Moscow and Damascus in the last year agreed to the indefinite placement of the air combat group. The document has been approved by the Russian government, now the agreement must be ratified by the parliament.
Russia will have free use of the Hmeymim air base
 
 
The text of the agreement states that Russia has been donated the base, will have at its disposal the airfield Hmeymim with all its infrastructure. In this period, the deployment of Russian aircraft and helicopters is not limited.
Now it only remains to be determined the status of the areas immediately adjacent to the airfield, which will house the Russian military.
Russian VKS has been based in Hmeymim since the beginning of the operation against ISIS.
The State Duma pledges support
Chairman of the State Duma Defense Committee Vladimir Komoedov already said that MPs would support this agreement with Damascus.
“Syria will be troubled for a long time, so it is necessary to keep the forces in combat readiness, as we have always kept Tartus as a supply point of our naval forces in the Mediterranean Sea, we are now adding the Hmeymim air base “,RIA Novosti quoted the deputy as saying.
Komoedov added that Russia is ready to assist the Government of Syria in restoring the integrity of its state.

Russian SU-25SM attack aircraft returned to the airbase in Kirgizia after night combat firing over the Urals

 

Wing of modernized Su-25SM attack aircraft returned to the Kant Russian airbase located in Kirgizia after carrying out training flights over the Urals.

Pilots conducted 3.500 km flight from the Shagol airbase (Chelyabinsk Region) with an average speed of 750 km/h with 2 refuelings (in Novosibirsk and Karaganda)

During 2 weeks, Su-25 SM crews practiced rocket firing on land targets at day- and nighttime at the Safakulevo air range (Kurgan Region). The targets simulated illegal armed formations and columns of their automobile technologies on march.

The main flights aim is improving crews air training on the unfamiliar area.

Russian pilots also took part in the flypast on May 9 in Yekaterinburg. The parade wing flew over the centre of the city at the altitude of 250 m with the speed of 400 km/h.

Russia’s ‘surprise & unexpected’ Syria withdrawal welcomed as signal for ‘true peace process’

 

Su-24 Fencer tactical bomber prepares for takeoff from the Hmeimim airbase in Lattakia, Syria. © Ramil Sitdikov
International political leaders have welcomed the Russian military pullout from Syria, and while many have called the Kremlin’s decision “unexpected,” it is seen as clearing the way for dialogue at a time when a truce in five-year-old war is being negotiated in Geneva.

Acknowledging that five months of military campaigns have mostly succeeded in their primary objective of eliminating the immediate wider threat from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), President Vladimir Putin has ordered the partial withdrawal of Russian armed forces from Syria.

Russia has placed its strategic emphasis on establishing a diplomatic effort, with Putin instructing the Foreign Ministry to intensify Moscow’s participation in organizing the peace process to resolve the Syrian crisis, which is about to enter its sixth year.

After announcing partial Russian withdrawal, President Putin, explained to his American counterpart in a phone conversation that the decision will “certainly serve as a good signal to all conflicting sides and create conditions for the start of a true peace process,” the Kremlin said in a statement.

The timing of the Russian decision is crucial as vital negotiations to avert further bloodshed in Syria resumed on Monday in Geneva. The last round of negotiations collapsed in January because the opposition block refused to debate their differences as Russian air raids intensified near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.

Obama welcomed the “much-needed reduction in violence” since the cease-fire took effect late last month, the White House said in a statement about Monday’s phone call. “The president underscored that a political transition is required to end the violence in Syria,” the White House added.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier also welcomed Moscow’s announcement saying it will put additional pressure on parties in Geneva to negotiate a peaceful transition to end the Syrian turmoil.

“This will increase the pressure on the al-Assad regime to finally and seriously negotiate a peaceful political transition in Geneva,” Steinmeier said in a statement.

Comments also came from the Iranian Foreign Ministry.

“The fact that a semi-ceasefire has been holding in Syria is welcome news, it’s something that we’ve been asking for at least two-and-a-half, three years,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said at a meeting with his Australian couterpart Julie Bishop in Canberra.

“The fact that Russia announced that it’s withdrawing part of its forces indicates that they don’t see an imminent need for resort to force in maintaining the ceasefire,” he added. “That in and of itself should be a positive sign. Now we have to wait and see.”

While Russia plans to maintain a military presence at its naval base in Tartous and the Khmeymim airbase, Moscow’s decision to reduce its military involvement in Syria has already been welcomed by the Syrian opposition currently negotiating in Geneva.

“If there is seriousness in implementing the withdrawal, it will give the talks a positive push,” said Salim al-Muslat, spokesman for the rebel High Negotiations Committee. “If this is a serious step it will form a major element of pressure on the regime, because the Russian support prolonged the regime. Matters will change significantly as a result of that.”

What is also important is that the move has been well received by all members of the UN Security Council, who have been working tirelessly on the diplomatic front to secure peace in Syria.

“We have also taken very good note of the decision by the Russians to start withdrawing part of these forces,” the Security Council’s rotating president, Angola’s Ambassador Ismael Abraao Gaspar Martins, told reporters. “When we see forces withdrawing, it means war is being taking a different step. So that’s good.”

However, despite the careful timing of Putin’s announcement that is clearly aimed at cementing the fragile ceasefire in Syria, the Kremlin’s decision has been called “a surprise move,” by the New York Times, which hypothesizes that the Russian decision was conditioned by the rift between Moscow and Damascus.

“There have been growing signs of differences between Russia and the Syrian government over the Geneva talks, which Moscow has pressed hard for along with Washington,” NYT wrote.

In reality the Russian initiative to withdraw received full support from the Syrian government before the announcement was made.

“The president of Syria noted the professionalism, courage and heroism of the Russian service personnel who took part in the military operations, and expressed his profound gratitude to Russia for providing such substantial help in fighting terrorism and providing humanitarian assistance to the civilian population,” the Kremlin said commenting on the phone call between Putin and Assad.

The Wall Street Journal has dubbed Moscow’s withdrawal an “unexpected announcement.”

“US officials said any withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria would come as a complete surprise and that the US government hadn’t expected Moscow to announce such a move,” WSJ said.

Stratfor, a global intelligence think tank, has also used the term “unexpected withdrawal,” to describe Putin’s decision. At the same time, their report acknowledged that Moscow has achieved its stated agenda.

“With their actions in Syria thus far, the Russians have showcased their improved combat capabilities and some new, previously unused weapons… Russia has also largely achieved its goal of weakening Islamic State…” the Stratfor report reads. “All in all, Islamic State may not be entirely defeated, but its forces in Syria and Iraq are much weaker than they were five months ago.”

9,000 sorties, 400 localities freed: What Russia has achieved during its 5-month Syria operation

 

A Su-30 SM aircraft prepares to take off from the Hmeimim airbase in the Latakia Governorate of Syria. © Ramil Sitdikov
As Russia’s Vladimir Putin announced the start of the withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has reported the anti-terror operation’s achievements to the Commander-in-Chief.

“Backed by our aviation, Syrian forces have freed 400 populated areas and over 10,000 square kilometers [3,860 square miles] of territories,” Shoigu said during a Kremlin meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Monday.

Terrorists have been forced out from Latakia and Aleppo, and Palmyra has been “blocked,” the military official reported to Putin, saying that military actions to free the UNESCO heritage site from militants continue. Hama and Homs Provinces in central Syria have been largely mopped up, and Kuweires airbase that had been besieged by terrorists for over three years was retaken.

Saying that Russia’s Air Force in Syria has conducted more than 9,000 sorties starting from September 30, 2015, the Defense Minister added that for the first time massive strikes at a range over 1,500 kilometers [930 miles] with both air and ship-launched missiles have been conducted.

With Russia’s support from the air, the Syrian army managed to retake control of oil and gas fields near Palmyra. Three large fields have already started functioning in normal mode, the minister added. In all, 209 oil production facilities and almost 3,000 oil delivery vehicles have been destroyed by Russia’s airstrikes.

“As a result of airstrikes, terrorists’ resources’ provision has been largely cut,” Shoigu told Putin, saying that petroleum trade routes with Turkey, as well as main routes of weapons provisions to terrorists have been blocked.

The Russian campaign also reduced the threat posed to Russia by Islamic militants, as over 2,000 fighters from Russia have been “eliminated” in Syria, including 17 field commanders.

To strengthen the progress achieved, Russian continues the aerial monitoring of the ceasefire’s observance.

“A fairly large number of unmanned aerial vehicles – over 70 – are being used for this purpose, as are all means of gathering intelligence, including electronic intelligence and our satellite constellation,” Shoigu stated.

Report of the Russian Centre for reconciliation of opposing sides in the Syrian Arab Republic (March 7, 2016)

General information on the application of measures for the reconciliation of opposing sides

In the course of last 24 hours, preliminary ceasefire agreements have been achieved with 5 commanders of armed units with total staff up to 550 men active in the Damascus province.

In total, 35 ceasefire application forms have been signed with leaders of armed groupings.

Negotiations with leaders of 4 armed formations active in the provinces of Damascus, Daraa and Hama are being held.

Total number of towns, which had joined the ceasefire agreements, remained 42 ones.

Results of ceasefire monitoring

In the course of last 24 hours, 8 ceasefire violations have been registered (Hama – 2, Aleppo, Idlib – 3 in each).

Attacks on Fua and Kafria (Idlib province) are continued.

Thus, on March 6, 2016 on 5 p.m. – 6.30 p.m. Ahrar al-Sham militants performed two attacks on Fua city sections from fire positions located near Minish by mortars and antitank guided missiles.

Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian Air Forces did not make strikes on armed formations, which follow ceasefire regime and informed the Russian or American Centres for reconciliation about their location.

Humanitarian aid to the population of Syria

Officers of the Russian Centre for reconciliation and representatives of reconciliation commission, elders and public representatives of Ruheiba (Damascus province) held a working meeting.

Forming of another humanitarian convoy is continued.

Additional information

Working teleconference session with the Chief of the American Coordination Centre in Amman, representative of the international support group of Syria in Geneva, and representative of the US defence department, who covers Middle East region, took place.

The session participants discussed situation in different regions of the Syrian Arab Republic, ceasefire observing and violations, and issues concerning providing humanitarian aid to the Syrian people.

Terrorists are still taking efforts to set back the peacemaking process in Syria.

Jabhat al-Nusra militants carried out several mortar attacks against Turkish territory near Metishli on March 6, 2016.

Actions performed by terrorists are aimed to provoke fire in response of the Turkish military and to bring troops into the Syrian territory. That will unfailingly tear down the ceasefire.

A number of ISIS formations have concentrated in the Turkish territory near Nusaybin (1.5 far from the Syrian border). Terrorists are preparing for the attack against Kamyshliyah, which is located on the Syrian territory and populated with Syrian Kurds.

Near Narb Nafsa (Hama province), terrorists filmed demonstrating conflict between two armed groupings.

They used small arms, incendiary bottles and different imitation means. The video is to be used to accuse the Syrian army of violating ceasefire.

Jund al-Malihash militants blocked roadway between Nahtah and al-Harak (Daraa province). They stop automobiles with civilians and threaten their life for refusing to participate in the combat actions.

The facts are the evidence that terrorists and several illegal armed groups active in Syria take efforts to set back ceasefire regime in the Syrian territory.

Three layers of Russian air defense at Hmeimim air base in Syria

Beefing up the Russian SAM element in Syria with a cutting-edge S-400 Triumph (SA-21 Growler) long-range SAM system has considerably improved the air defense coverage of the key facility

 

Russian Pantsyr-S1 air defense weapon system, foreground, and the S-400 long-range air defense missile systems in Syria

Russian Pantsyr-S1 air defense weapon system, foreground, and the S-400 long-range air defense missile systems in Syria
© Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

Russia's S-400 air defense systems in Syria

Russia’s S-400 air defense systems in Syria
© Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP

Russia's S-400 air defense systems in Syria

Russia’s S-400 air defense systems in Syria
© Russian Defense Ministry

A Russian Mi-24 helicopter gunship flies on patrol while S-400 air defense missile systems are seen in the background in Syria

A Russian Mi-24 helicopter gunship flies on patrol while S-400 air defense missile systems are seen in the background in Syria
© AP Photo/Vladimir Isachenkov

February 9. /TASS-DEFENSE/. A Russian Sukhoi Su-24M (NATO reporting name: Fencer) was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter in Syrian airspace near the Turkish border on November 24, 2015. In response, the Russian leadership decided to boost the security of the air task force’s planes on mission in Syrian airspace and to step up the air defense of Khmeimim air base.

As far as the surface-to-air missile (SAM)-based defense theory is concerned, it is enough to provide area defense for the key defense industry and military installations at the most probable avenues of approach in low-intensity conflicts , while large-scale military conflicts necessitate area and point defense.

 

The Khmeimim air base is provided with purely point defense (all infrastructure facilities of the base are protected). In addition, its SAM-based air defense resulted from pooling the efforts with the air defense elements of other armed services, particularly the Russian Navy, and the air defense elements of the Syrian Arab Republic. To a certain extent, there is the implementation of the territorial SAM-based air defense principle at Khmeimim AB.

Beefing up the Russian SAM element in Syria with a cutting-edge S-400 Triumph (SA-21 Growler) long-range SAM system has considerably improved the AD coverage of the key facility, Khmeimim AB, and allowed reaching targets flying at higher altitudes and speeds. In addition, the AD element’s survivability and immunity has grown sharply in terms of possible fires- and electronic countermeasures-heavy environment.

Russian-Syrian air defense force

According to public sources, the combined Russian-Syrian AD force was deployed in the war zone as far back as November 2015, comprising:

  • Pantsir-S1 (SS-22 Greyhound) close-in SAM/AA systems;
  • Osa-AKM (SA-8 Gecko);
  • S-125 Pechora-2M (SA-3 Goa) short-range (SHORAD) SAM systems;
  • Buk-M2E (SA-17 Grizzly) medium-range SAM systems;
  • S-200VE Vega (SA-5 Gammon);
  • S-400 Triumph long-range SAM systems.

Moreover, a decision was made to add the S-300FM Fort-M (SA-N-20) SAM systems of the Moskva and Varyag (Slava-class) guided missile cruisers in Syria’s littorals in order to augment the air defenses in the wake of the Su-24M’s downing on November 24, 2015. To cap it all, Krasukha-4 electronic warfare (EW) systems were deployed in Khmeimim AB to protect it from hostile air and space reconnaissance assets.

Thus, a task force capable of eliminating hostile warplanes, helicopters, cruise missiles and reconnaissance, EW and other aircraft was formed promptly.

Moreover, Khmeimim AB’s layered SAM-based air defense based on composite Air Defense Force, Army Air Defense and naval AD groupings was established and enabled to handle non-strategic missile defense missions. The latter capability is provided by the S-400 Triumph.

At least three layers are apparent in the SAM-based air defenses of Khmeimim AB.

  1. The first layer is provided by the S-400 and S-200VE long-range systems.
  2. The second one is handled by the S-300FM Fort-M and Buk-M2E medium-range systems.
  3. The third layer is furnished by the Osa-AKM and S-125 Pechora-2M SHORAD systems.

Finally, the Pantsir-S1 close-in systems should be considered to be a means of covering the air base and S-400.

S-400 SAM capabilities

As far as the volume of fire and SAM-based air defense depth are concerned, we should prefer the latter, because it is the most objective parameter of SAM-based air defense. In this respect, the S-400’s 40N6E long-range missile capable of killing aircraft out to 400 km is of special interest. With SAMs like that, the S-400 can cover almost all of Syria and even part of adjacent regions.

Of particular interest to experts is the possible tactical employment of the S-400 SAM system, if the right conditions are right for that. Compared with the S-300 (SA-10 Grumble), the Triumph can destroy a much wider range of threats travelling at a speed of 4,800 m/s, e.g. intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of 3,000-3,500 km. It also can handle pinpoint targets and stealthy threats at a range extended by 50% owing to an increase in the power generation capabilities of the 91N6E radar system and 92N6E multirole radar. The introduction of advanced electronic countermeasures (ECM) resistance solutions has boosted the system’s ECM immunity by several times. Finally, its reliability has grown and its size and power consumption have dropped owing to its cutting-edge electronics, sophisticated self-contained power supply and advanced vehicles.

The Russian AD task force in Syria will both prevent new attacks on Russian warplanes and disrupt air strikes by third parties against targets in Syria.

 

By Mikhail Khodaryonok

The article was published on the ‘Russian Defense & Technologies’ newswire.