On the eve of the web appeared video vividly confirming the use of Iskander-M in Syria. The 9M729 cruise missile took off and hit its target, which is remarkable, exploding 100%. What is this, the response of the RF Ministry of Defense to the insinuations of the Armenian Prime Minister Pashinyan, or is the use of OTRK in the conditions of the Syrian campaign a military necessity?
Let us remind you that the other day Nikol Pashinyan found the "extreme" in the defeat of the Armenian side in Nagorno-Karabakh. It turns out that the problem was not in the incompetent actions of Yerevan itself in the leadership of the army and mobilization measures in the war with Azerbaijan, but in the Iskander supplied by Russia to Armenia, which were “of the wrong system”. According to him, the missiles fired from the OTRK either did not explode at all, or only exploded by 10%. The RF Ministry of Defense was forced to disavow the insinuations of the Prime Minister of Armenia, explaining that Iskander-E were not actually used in Nagorno-Karabakh at all, and that he has incorrect information.
But the sediment, as they say, remained, so our military in Syria had to show the goods with their face. This is probably the first video recording of the actual use of this missile system in combat conditions for real targets. Previously, information on this matter appeared, but it was in the format of statements by representatives of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and various leaks such as random photos of OTRK at the Khmeimim military airbase. But let's ask ourselves a question, how justified is it to hit irregular armed formations of terrorists with 9M729 cruise missiles (and 9M723 ballistic missiles)? After all, their main functional purpose is to destroy air defense and missile defense systems, as well as fortified military infrastructure, which only regular armies have. The answer is not entirely straightforward.
It should be admitted that the main contribution to the defeat of terrorist groups opposing official Damascus was made precisely by combat aviation. Russia's entry into the Syrian campaign in 2015 was a real sensation. The SAR had its own air force, but those were represented mainly by outdated aircraft. For the needs of the Russian Aerospace Forces, the Khmeimim airbase was transferred, where Moscow transferred the modernized Su-24M2, Su-25SM and Su-27SM3, as well as more modern Su-30SM, Su-34 and Su-35S. Air reconnaissance was provided by Il-22M and A-50 flying radars, as well as drones. The helicopter fleet was represented by the Mi-24P, Mi-28N, Mi-35M and Ka-52. Also, strategic bombers Tu-22M3M, Tu-95MSM and Tu-160 took part in the Aerospace Forces operation in Syria.
How did all this help?
So, in the period from 2015 to 2016, the Su-25SM attack aircraft worked very actively. Sometimes there were six sorties per pilot per day. They flew out on a "free hunt" both alone and in pairs, where they destroyed combat machinery, trucks and personnel of terrorist groups. According to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, attack aircraft made more than 1500 sorties. Also, in the first two years of the participation of the Russian Aerospace Forces in the Syrian campaign, Su-24M2 front-line bombers and Su-34 fighter-bombers were also used very intensively. During this period, they had 1600 sorties, which led to the destruction of more than 2000 targets. After the tragic incident with the Russian Su-24, which was shot down by the Turkish Air Force, our bombers began to accompany the Su-27SM, Su-35S and Su-30SM fighters. Moreover, the latter were also used to destroy ground targets with unguided aircraft missiles (NAR). The super-maneuverable Su-35S has shown itself in the SAR as one of the best fighters in the world in its class.
Separately, I would like to talk about the use of domestic long-range aviation in the Syrian campaign. Before Russia, only the United States widely used its strategic bombers against a technologically weaker enemy. The Pentagon did not hesitate to throw against Yugoslavia, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan all of its most modern bombers, as well as veterans of the B-52, of course, without nuclear weapons on board. The last time the USSR actively used its Long-Range Aviation in Afghanistan was in 1988, and the RF Armed Forces did not quite successfully in Georgia in 2008. But in Syria, our "strategists" have shown themselves at a decent level.
In 2015, having taken off from Mozdok, Tu-95MS and Tu-160 bombers, as well as Tu-22M3 and Tu-22M3M, successfully worked in terrorist camps in the provinces of Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. And that was just the beginning. Long-Range Aviation aircraft dropped OFAB-250-270 ballistic bombs on the positions of the militants, and also hit them with cruise missiles. The peak of their activity was in 2015-2016. "Strategists" with impunity destroyed the field camps of terrorists, depots with ammunition and fuels and lubricants, command posts, military equipment and manpower of the enemy in large quantities.
With all this, a very useful experience of real interaction was obtained. Strategic bombers rose from airfields in Russia, flew over the territory of Iraq and Iran, and then they were taken under protection by the Su-30SM and Su-35S, which took off from the Khmeimim airbase. It should also be noted that the Syrian campaign made it possible to rethink the approaches to Long-Range Aviation, which at that time was not in the best condition. For decades, its aircraft fleet actually did without modernization, there was a shortage of components, the aircraft were aging. As a result, the latest Kh-101 cruise missiles had to be launched from old onboard complexes. Problems were identified with the interaction of analog and digital missile control systems and their carriers. Good news lies in the fact that now all these shortcomings are eliminated, outdated avionics and navigation equipment are changing. Deep modernization significantly extended the service life of our "strategists", and the combat capability of Long-Range Aviation, thanks to the Syrian experience, has significantly increased.
So what do we have in the bottom line?
At the time of Russia's entry into the war in 2015, Damascus controlled about 15% of its territory, the rest was divided between various terrorist groups and interventionists. In just a few years of active work, the Russian Aerospace Forces made a very serious contribution to returning the ATS to most of the lost. But why, then, are the Iskanders in Syria? To answer, you need to understand that the RF Ministry of Defense is solving a whole range of tasks there.
At first, modern weapons are being tested in real combat conditions. The use of this OTRK is an important component of our modern military doctrine, so it is important to have practical experience. At the same time, an unobtrusive advertisement for Russian weapons is being made, which made it possible to delicately and promptly refute the insinuations of the Armenian Prime Minister.
Secondly, "Iskander" can hit targets at a distance of up to 500 kilometers, catching the enemy by surprise. It should be borne in mind that the Khmeimim airbase is under the closest supervision of the United States, Turkey and Israel, as well as terrorist groups, which continuously monitor when and where Russian planes take off and go. OTRK, on the other hand, can suddenly "bang" in such a way that you will only have time to oyk.
That is why the presence and use of Iskander-M missile systems in Syria, along with military aircraft, is fully justified.