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Russian Jets Deploy into Latakia

Sept. 22, 2015 (EIRNS)—The Russian air contingent in Syria grew to 28 jets and more than a dozen helicopters over this past weekend, according to various sources and satellite images. The first Russian tactical aircraft to arrive in Syria were 4 Sukhoi Su-30SM fighter jets, and they were quickly followed by a dozen Su-25 close-support aircraft and a dozen Su-24 attack bombers. In addition to the 28 tactical aircraft, there are also now reported to be 14-20 helicopters, a mix of Mi-24 attack helicopters and Mi-17 assault helicopters.

This is a very robust air-to-ground strike force, with a not insignificant air-to-air capability. "In terms of an air-to- ground fight and the threat on the ground posed by [Islamic State] and anti-Assad forces, they’re very capable platforms," an unnamed Marine pilot told the Washington Post. The Su-24’s and Su-25’s fly "low and slow," like the U.S. A-10, he said, and both excel in low-threat environments, though they may face the threat of shoulder-fired missiles from ISIS. The Su-30’s, on the other hand, are a "game changer," he said. "The Su-30 is the equivalent of a U.S. F-18; it’s multi-role," the pilot said, referring to the equal abilities the Su-30 has when it comes to attacking both air and ground targets. "If the Russians are going to support the war against [the Islamic State], it’s a great platform, and if they’re going to start trouble with [the United States] it’s a great platform for that, too."