00:11 GMT +3 hours01 July 2016
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Everyday life of the Russian air group at the Hmeymim airfield in Syria

Shadow CIA Warns Russian Air Power Would Stop Any Foreign Invasion of Syria

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Stratfor, the US-based intelligence think tank often called the 'Shadow CIA', has released satellite photos showing a buildup of Russian air power at the Hmeymim Airbase in Latakia, northwest Syria. The think tank bluntly warns that if Turkey or Saudi Arabia were to attack Syrian forces, they would be "met with significant Russian air defenses."

In its report, Stratfor points out that "when Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 warplane on November 24, it did not just sour relations between Ankara and Moscow: It gave Russia a reason to build up its air defense capabilities in Syria."

And build up they did. "Before the incident, the Russian air cover burden depended on four deployed multirole Su-30 aircraft – clearly visible in a ready position near the runway in the recent imagery obtained by AllSource Analysis – that escorted strike packages."

Air Superiority Fighters at Bassel al Assad Air Base [Hmeymim] Feb. 4, 2016
Air Superiority Fighters at Bassel al Assad Air Base [Hmeymim] Feb. 4, 2016
Russian Su-30 jets landing at the Hmeymim Air Base.
© Sputnik/ Dmitri Vinogradov
Russian Su-30 jets landing at the Hmeymim Air Base.

​However, "a week after the downing, Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers in Syria were spotted carrying R-27 air-to-air missiles. Russia also rushed advanced surface-to-air missile systems to Syria, including Buk systems and the long-range and highly capable S-400 system. The S-400 launch vehicles can be seen in a well-protected portion of the Bassel al-Assad air base [Hmeymim] near Latakia."

"Preparation ​for combat mission by a Su-34 armed with air-to-air missiles"

Defensive Positions at Bassel al Assad Air Base [Hmeymim] Feb. 4, 2016.
Defensive Positions at Bassel al Assad Air Base [Hmeymim] Feb. 4, 2016.

"Russia," Stratfor's analysis warned, "has enhanced its air defenses to prevent other countries from entering the Syrian conflict. There are increasing reports that Turkey could be considering direct military intervention in Syria. Even some Arab countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have made statements about possibly sending troops into the country."

"So, in mid-January, Russia reportedly began operating A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft, which provide better situational awareness and bolster air responsiveness, over the country. [Moreover,] over the past weekend, four of Russia's advanced air superiority Su-35 fighter jets also arrived in Syria and began conducting combat air patrols."

"Su-35S at the Russian Air Base in Syria"

Russian Ground Attack Aircraft at Bassel al Assad Air Base [Hmeymim] Feb. 4, 2016
Russian Ground Attack Aircraft at Bassel al Assad Air Base [Hmeymim] Feb. 4, 2016

"Finally," the analysis noted, "recently built Pantsyr-S2 systems, which combine missiles and anti-aircraft guns, were spotted in Russian media footage shot at Bassel al-Assad air base, likely replacing or complementing Pantsyr-S1 systems that were delivered earlier in the campaign."

​Ultimately, Stratfor warns, "with such an extensive presence, Russia will be able to obstruct the war efforts of those opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The United States and its allies can still fly airstrikes against the Islamic State [Daesh], but the prospect of changing targets to include loyalist forces advancing on rebel position is greatly hindered by active Russian air support."

"Turkey and Saudi Arabia, for example, have long sought to oust the al-Assad government, but any attempt to unilaterally support the rebels with their own assets would be met with significant Russian air defenses."

For its part, the think tank suggests, "the United States is even more averse to escalating tension with Russia. Wishing to avoid losing focus on the fight against the Islamic State, the United States has no desire to confront Russian air power in the skies above Syria."

Related:
What is the Difference Between Russia's and US' Air Campaigns in Syria?
WATCH: Russia’s Daesh-Crushing Su-35 Fighter Jets at Hmeymim Airbase
Prepped and Ready: High Tech Russian Anti-Air Weapons Deployed in Syria
Tags:
air power, air defense, satellite imagery, analysis, Pantsir-S1, Pantsir-S2, Su-34, S-400, Pantsir missile system, Su-30, Stratfor, Aerospace Defense Forces (VKO), Turkey, Syria, Russia, Latakia, Saudi Arabia
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  • roycomfort
    Thanks Cmat Wofgang for the psychology 101 offering, but I'm afraid I'm well beyond these baby steps!

    To understand the western mindset, you need to change 5․ to payback․

    To another poster above, there is nothing particularly clever or impressive about blanket bombing ground troops that have no air defence weapons to fight back or civilians who are dying in large numbers due to mass, non-precision bombing of urban areas․ Despite standard Assad-Russian denials, there is just too much evidence from the ground, citizen reports, tv cameras, NGOs and NATO satellites that this a deliberate operation by Russia and Syria․ This is the thing that has turned the tide of western opinion against Russia and Assad and it will not be forgotten or forgiven․ As said, the end of the cycle is payback and the tactical issue is only where and when․
  • Mitach2002
    Wow. An American think tank that can actually think.
  • terryjohnodgersin reply toroycomfort(Show commentHide comment)
    roycomfort, Perhaps Russia has more to lose in the long term in Syria than the US or its so called 'allies' who would gain everything? I would suggest you do some research into why Russia is now fighting to save Syria in the process, grab a better glimpse of the big picture.
  • terryjohnodgersin reply toarmor(Show commentHide comment)
    armor, I second your opinion!
  • terryjohnodgersin reply toanne00marie(Show commentHide comment)
    anne00marie, Now they should start on the drug production in Afghanistan. So much misery brought to the wold through corruptive drugs!
  • terryjohnodgersin reply toMr. Blair M. Phillips(Show commentHide comment)
    Mr. Blair M. Phillips, capitalism and free enterprise, the system that probably gave you a lift up in life as compared to other parts of the world has been perverted to suit a world elite. It is not the system that sucks, it is those who are running it out of control and without any accountability for their actions.
  • terryjohnodgersin reply toMitach2002(Show commentHide comment)
    Mitach2002, I used to read a lot of stratfor reports. I guess I got turned off when I realized that the US could do no wrong according to stratfor.
  • terryjohnodgersin reply tomichael(Show commentHide comment)
    michael, that is a fair comment.
  • terryjohnodgers
    I do believe that Stratfor is not being candid in this article. I think Russia has many things up its sleeves than the Americans fully appreciate or wish to acknowledge. For example; look at what happened to the USS Donald Cook while in the Baltic Sea during 2014. It's on the web so just type in the USS Donald Cook incident.
  • Mr. Blair M. Phillipsin reply toterryjohnodgers(Show commentHide comment)
    terryjohnodgers, - You might be right but I disagree. There's a clip on Capitalism by Chomsky that's worth watching. www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYW1SdQCM7s
  • terryjohnodgersin reply toterryjohnodgers(Show commentHide comment)
    terryjohnodgers, nothing like having a two way bet eh, Roy. Chomsky holds no interest for me, his socialism has blinded him to life's realities for many years now.
  • terryjohnodgersin reply toMr. Blair M. Phillips(Show commentHide comment)
    Mr. Blair M. Phillips, nothing like having a two way bet eh, Blair? Chomsky holds no interest for me, his socialism has blinded him to many of life's realities.
  • Ann in reply toroycomfort(Show commentHide comment)
    roycomfort, the same can easily be said of the United States, which has no legitimate business even being in Syria to begin with.
  • Ann in reply toanne00marie(Show commentHide comment)
    anne00marie, Yay! That needed to be done also! Thank You Russia.
  • Ann in reply toanne00marie(Show commentHide comment)
    anne00marie, Yes he did, on national TV no less. You can find it on youtube.
  • Ann in reply to (Show commentHide comment)
    Erik Trete, Being the ruthless bully that it has been, the U.S. could find a great many countries standing against it. The warmongers had better look before they leap.
  • Ann in reply toroycomfort(Show commentHide comment)
    roycomfort, You are really just spewing more unsubstantiated western propaganda, right to the last letter. You may be more appreciated at CNN or MSNBC, because you are having little or no affect here.
  • Ann in reply toroycomfort(Show commentHide comment)
    roycomfort, "without asking Assad for any 'permission'" is exactly WHY all western efforts are illegal, in violation of international law, and therefor, illegitimate. How can anyone expect to be taken seriously, when they do not recognize the sovereign govt of Syria, as THE authority in Syrian space? The US coalition AND the rebels/terrorists of all stripes are INVADERS of sovereign land...and you people complain about North Korea being ridiculous...
  • Ann in reply toMr. Blair M. Phillips(Show commentHide comment)
    Mr. Blair M. Phillips, Noam Chomsky is an anarchist. Anarchism is by their very nature opposed to capitalism in all forms. No surprise there.
  • ivanwa88
    erik trete you mentioned 50-70 NATO planes to overwhelm air defences! you weren't to far out just forgot to add a zero and a plus sign. Otherwise we wouldn't be posting about the possibility.
    I estimated 3 waves of 350 aircraft would be minimum assets required with 80% loss of planes and no base to return to! That's how good that defence really is plus planes defences.
    That's only if they were able to overcome the electronic jamming system which is highly unlikely.
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