Newest Russian fighters sent to the combat zone
As it became known to Kommersant, the RF Ministry of Defense transferred four new MiG-29SMT fighters delivered to the agency of the corporation of the same name in December 2015 to the airbase Khmeimim (Latakia). According to Kommersant, the cars were sent to the region in order to provide practice to the maximum number of pilots, and also to run the aircraft in combat conditions. The expert believes that the use of MiG-29SMT in Syria will allow the corporation MiG to support its export potential.
The first information about the forthcoming transfer of MiGs from Russia to Syria appeared more than a year ago. In private conversations, several officers of the staff of the Air and Space Forces of the Russian Federation assumed that in the very near future several MiG fighters would appear in Khmeimim. Thus, the military expected to finish the "run-through" of the flight crew in conditions of actual military operations. However, because of the tense situation in Syria, which was established at that time, did not experiment with the newest machines, relying on the already proven in the campaign multi-functional fighters Su-30SM and Su-35.
A year later the situation changed. Yesterday, the first confirmation of the presence of MiG-29SMT in Syria appeared. A photo of a fighter of this type (the 23 blue number on board) appeared in the photo report of the Russian Defense Ministry, published on the official website of a press tour of Russian and foreign journalists in Syria. According to Kommersant sources in the military administration, this machine was transferred to Khmeimim last week from the 116 Training Center for Combat Applications of the 185 Center for Combat Training and Combat Use of Fighter Aviation of the Russian Federation Air Force (Privolzhsky, Astrakhan). Together with it three similar MiG-29SMT arrived from there.
Now the MiG-29SMT are the newest aircraft from the mass produced by the corporation MiG and, perhaps, the last of the military novelties, still not involved in Operation Retribution. Until 2014 year, the military had 28 such machines. They got them after Algeria refused to take these planes in 2008 year because of claims to quality. Subsequently, they all passed the defect, repair and modification to the requirements of the Russian Air Force, after which the corporation "MiG" received an order for another 16 machines (costing approximately 17 billion rubles.). The four MiGs that arrived last week in Khemeymim were transferred to the Russian military in December of 2015 just under this contract.
According to the interlocutors of "Kommersant" close to the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces, the transfer of MiG-29SMT to Syria should solve several problems at once. First, the crews of these fighters should receive combat experience (in May, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that he received 86% of the air force in Syria). Secondly, even taking into account the running-in of aircraft during various exercises, the military wanted to see how the machine and its avionics will behave on the battlefield. So far, according to Kommersant's information, the crews of the MiG-29SMT are primarily carrying out reconnaissance missions, although they are sometimes connected to combat missions. It is known that at least one of the MiGs already carried out the discharge of high-explosive-fragmented aviation bombs OFAB-500Kr on the position of the militants of the "Islamic state" (prohibited in the Russian Federation). Subsequently, the test program for MiG-29SMT will only expand: according to Kommersant's information, the military can also launch cruise missiles with laser homing X-29L.
Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Ruslan Pukhov believes that in addition to practical purposes (verification of the TTX and performance characteristics), the sending of MiG-29SMT to Syria is pursued by purely commercial ones. "Successful actions of Russian equipment in Syria are its best advertising on the international market, so the participation of" mihovsky "machines in the operation will support the export potential of the corporation," the expert stresses.