Intermediate results of the use of the air forces of Assad in the 6-year war with militants.
Currently, the Syrian Arab Air Force serves about 40 thousand soldiers and officers. These troops are rightfully considered an army elite. Suffice it to say that the late President Hafez Al-Assad was one of the creators of the national combat aviation and even served in the first group of pilots. Before the current war, which began in 2011, the pilots of this country already had serious combat experience gained in the conflicts with Israel and Lebanon.
Six years ago, the Asad Air Force had approximately 575 aircraft and helicopters, including:
There are also transporters - An-24, An-26S and IL-76, but there are not many of them. In addition, civilian aircraft are aimed at military needs. In total, according to the latest information, the Syrian Air Force today has about 200 machines, of which 120 is in operation.
As for the current basing, Asad's combat aviation is concentrated on 6 airbases: in the Damascus area, near Homs and Palmyra, in Aleppo, near Latakia and Deir ez Zor. The zone of its influence covers Central and Western Syria.
Recall that the Syrian Air Force was built on the model of the Soviet Air Force 1970-80, that is, in squadrons were from 10 to 20 bombers or fighters, and from 8 to 14 helicopters. But after 6 years of war, many units ceased to exist as combat units. The main reason for this state of affairs is that the Syrian command does not refer to direct losses from MANPADS and antiaircraft systems, but high intensity of departures - almost daily, difficult operating conditions and a weak maintenance base. As a result, now combat missions are performed by individual machines or in very small groups.
As a result, Damascus was forced to use all available aircraft technology, including outdated. In particular, training aircraft L-39 were converted to light attack aircraft. However, this modernization has not justified itself.
Be that as it may, the pilots played an important role in the fact that Syria did not turn into a ghost state, like Libya. Here are some examples of the most important operations. 20 March 2014 Su-24 dealt a precise blow to the positions of the militants and thereby saved from destruction the ancient fortress of the Order of Hospitallers Krak de Chevalier. In the gap that formed the opening burst a detachment of Syrian special forces and interrupted the rebels seated there.
6 January 2016 year and 29 March 2016, the Syrian Air Force, in fact, prevented the fall of Damascus, promptly destroying infiltrated in the vicinity of the capital, large groups of militants.
In response, the Islamists at any cost tried to destroy the air base, most often sudden blows. A case was recorded in the area of the city of Deir ez Zor when Mig-21 took off during an intensive mortar attack and at an extremely low altitude, barely detached from the runway, attacked militants who were only a few hundred meters from the airfield. It is unlikely that NATO aircraft are capable of this.
Strikes against air bases were inflicted not only by IGIL * fighters, but also by Americans. So, 7 April 2017 year at the airport Shayrat cruise missiles "Tomahawk" were destroyed 3 MiG-23 and 4 Su-22. Meanwhile, the planes of the attacked 675 squadron of fighters and the 677 squadron of bombers played a key role in deterring and destroying the considerable forces of the IGSIL in the Syrian desert. By the way, the participation of Assad's aviation in the chemical attack has remained unproven. If to call things by their own names, the USA rendered the most real military support to IGIL.
On the other hand, the experience of this air war clearly demonstrated the fundamental importance of satellite reconnaissance and modern UAVs. So, 27 July 2016, the Syrian Air Force dealt a powerful blow to one of the villages in Eastern Hama, where, according to the intelligence of the army, the headquarters of the IGIL squads were to be located. All the declared goals were destroyed, but it was not possible to obtain confirmation of the destruction of the command of the Islamist group. And this is far from an isolated case.
In general, the Syrian Air Force was unable to reverse the course of the war, so their successes can be regarded as tactical victories. Only with the advent of the Russian Aerospace Forces of Russia the situation in this country has changed radically.
The future of military aviation in Assad is under big question. Today, Damascus has neither the financial resources nor the technical capabilities to purchase modern combat aircraft. It is known that before the conflict, Syria signed a contract with Russia to supply 36 light Yak-130 attack aircraft, 24 - Mig-29 and a small number of Mig-31.
But due to lack of money, the delivery did not take place. At the same time, a number of Western media reported that Russia donated ten Su-24 on a free basis to restore the potential of the Shayrat air base, which suffered after the American strike. However, the same tabloids declared that the information was not confirmed.
According to other information, Moscow is not sure that Syrian pilots will be able to effectively use new aircraft technology, which will negatively affect the image of the Russian defense industry. For the sake of justice, these same publications write about the fact that the war in Syria made an excellent advertisement for our country, and also forced to reckon with Russia as a country with a high-tech military-industrial complex.
By the way, Western experts underestimated the capabilities of the Syrian Air Force (and, hence, Russian aircraft). In particular, in 2011, the Pentagon predicted the complete loss of all Assad's aircraft as early as 2014. The Americans then wrote that "... due to a myriad of political and financial difficulties, the Syrian Arab Army since 1990 has not been able to purchase any modern combat aircraft." Like, everything that Assad has is junk and rubbish, which means that Assad's air force will last for a maximum of three years.
However, later on the front-line fighter MiG-21 began to be spoken of as "flying Kalashnikov" - so reliable and unpretentious in the maintenance was a car. When asked what they do not like about Russian planes, the Syrian pilots answer: "Only that they are very few in our army."
* The movement "Islamic State" by the decision of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation from 29 December 2014 was recognized as a terrorist organization, its activities on the territory of Russia are prohibited.