On September 1, two Tu-142MK maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircrafts of the Russian Naval Aviation arrived in the Hmeimim airbase in western Syria, according to SouthFront, citing Syrian pro-government activists. The two aircrafts were reportedly escorted by Su-35 warplanes.
The Tu-142MK has a combat radius of 6,500km and can fly as high as 12km. The maritime reconnaissance and ASW aircraft can be also armed with different types of torpedoes, bombs and anti-ship missiles, such as the advance Kh-35.
The two aircrafts are expected to participate in the ongoing massive drills of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Syria, which will end on September 8. According to the Ministry of Defense of Russia, Russia has deployed its largest naval armada since the Syrian war amid mutual allegations of an imminent chemical attack, and includes 25 warships led by the Marshal Ustinov missile cruiser and 30 aircraft, including the strategic Tu-160 missile-carrying bombers are participating in the drills.
#Russia|n Navy has deployed these 10 ships & submarines to #Tartus, Eastern #MediterraneanSea to use them against #USNavy, #RoyalNavy & French Navy in case of their attempts for halting incoming offensive of #Syria|n Arab Army for liberation of #Idlib. pic.twitter.com/PSmpMGILul— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) August 28, 2018
Currently, the following Russian military vessels are stationed in the Mediterranean near the Syrian coast according to Naval military observers:
- CG Marshal Ustinov
- DDG Severomorsk
- DDG Yaroslav Mudryy
- FFG Admiral Grigorovich
- FFG Admiral Essen
- FFL Pytlivyy
- FSG Vyshniy Volochek
- FSG Grad Sviyazhsk
- FSG Velikiy Ustyug
- LST Orsk
- LST Nikolay Fil'chenkov
- MS Turbinist
- MS Valentin Pikul
- SS Kolpino
- SS Velikiy Novgorod
Part 1/5 - #Russia Navy assets in #Tartus, #Syria now:— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) August 28, 2018
1-"Marshal Ustinov" (055) Slava-class guided missile cruiser
2-"Severomorsk" (619) Udaloy-class anti-submarine destroyer
3-"Pytlivy" (808) Burevestnik-class Frigate pic.twitter.com/VNj99tBgWB
Part 2/5 - #Russia Navy assets in #Tartus, #Syria now:— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) August 28, 2018
4-"Admiral Grigorovich" (494) Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate
5-"Admiral Essen" (490) Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate
6-"Admiral Makarov" (799) Admiral Grigorovich-class frigate pic.twitter.com/MlR6g8A5zR
Part 3/5 - #Russia Navy assets in #Tartus, #Syria now:— Babak Taghvaee (@BabakTaghvaee) August 28, 2018
7-"Grad Sviyazhsk" (652) Buyan-M class corvette
8-"Velikiy Ustug" (651) Buyan-M class corvette
9-"Vyshny Volochek" (609) Buyan-M class corvette pic.twitter.com/iHHzcZXMY9
Local observers believe that the drills are a response to the U.S. and its allies, which threatened to carry out a new missile strikes on positions of the Damascus government. Russia had warned that the militants in northern Syria may stage a chemical attack to serve as a pretext for the new strike.