Home » Aviation » Official: Russians Flying Armed Sorties From Carrier Over Syria; Massive Strikes Likely Soon


Official: Russians Flying Armed Sorties From Carrier Over Syria; Massive Strikes Likely Soon

Sukhoi Su-33 launching from the Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012. Russian MoD Photo

Sukhoi Su-33 launching from the Admiral Kuznetsov in 2012. Russian MoD Photo

THE PENTAGON — Armed Russian fighters have sortied from carrier Admiral Kuznetsov for flights over Syria ahead of an anticipated combined arms strike on rebels opposed to Bashar al-Assad near Aleppo, a U.S. defense official told USNI News on Tuesday.

While the fighters have not dropped ordnance in scouting out the approaches to Aleppo, signs point to the combination of Sukhoi Su-33s and Mikoyan MiG-29Ks as part of a larger force set to move on Aleppo as soon as this week, the official confirmed.

In a statement, the Pentagon chided Russian statement in the press telegraphing the impending assault on Aleppo but did not provide additional details.

“We are aware of reports that the Russian Federation is preparing to escalate their military campaign in Syria. The United States, time and again, has worked to try and de-escalate the violence in Syria and provide humanitarian aid to civilians suffering under siege,” read the statement on reports of impending Russian strikes provided to USNI News on Wednesday.
“Yet instead of joining us constructively to reach those goals, Russia has continued to back the Bashar al-Assad regime’s war against the Syrian people. The comments from the Russian Ministry of Defense suggest they are more interested in the world seeing Russia’s naval capabilities in action than the world seeing Russia live up to its word. An escalation would make it harder to resolve the brutal civil war in Syria and raise more doubts about Russia’s commitment to a political solution.”

Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in 2012. Russian Ministry of Defense Photo

Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in 2012. Russian Ministry of Defense Photo

Operating south of Cyprus, Kuznetsov is part of a surface action group — made up of the carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, cruiser Peter the Great and two Udaloy-class guided missile destroyers plus auxiliaries — the Russians moved into striking range of positions near Aleppo this week, officials told USNI News.

In addition to the quartet, the Russian Navy sortied the new frigate Admiral Grigorovich from the Black Sea in the region. Grigorovich is armed with Russian Kalibir NK long-range land attack cruise missiles – first used operationally last year in strikes in Syria from Russian patrol ships in the Caspian Sea.

Russia have operated strike fighters from bases in Syria for more than the last year and also established a healthy air defense network over their installations.

Relative to existing forces, the addition of the Russian ships bring little to the fight within the borders of Syria, the capabilities of the action group and coastal defense anti-ship missiles Russian forces have in the country could severely complicate operations of U.S. ships and aircraft operating in the Eastern Mediterranean, USNI News understands.

  • Marcd30319

    Just remember, this is all just propaganda. Our in-house expert Andrew Fink told us so.

  • olesalt

    What would Trump when he is officially inaugurated as US Prez in January? He likes/respects Putin & vice-versa. We await to see future outcomes.

  • Michael D. Woods

    “Massive strikes?” The ship has only fourteen strike airplanes and a few helicopters on it.

    • sferrin

      Exactly. And they can’t even carry much of a payload without catapults. Clickbait title.

      • muzzleloader

        Plus no inflight refueling assets.

        • chris chuba

          They don’t need in flight refueling, Aleppo to the coast is 50 miles, throw in another 20 miles over the ocean, and you get 70 miles. The Mig 29 has an operational range of over 700 nautical miles.

          • Tired_Libertarian

            Do they still have that range while carrying ordinance instead of extra fuel? From what I’ve heard is that their carrier launched aircraft are severely limited in payload weight because of the lack of a catapult. To the point that they are limited to four air-to-air missiles on regular patrols.

    • B.J. Blazkowicz

      That’s barely an air wing.

      • Michael D. Woods

        Not even an air wing. It’s a squadron.

    • John Dapper

      If the Russians have the ability for massive strikes, what is it that American and French carriers are doing with their air wings.
      You forgot to name all the ships with the Kuznetsov. One is a tug for towing her when the engines fail, again.

      • gwhh

        You are correct about the tug. Anytime it leaves port. It takes a tug. So does china aircraft carrier.

      • Tired_Libertarian

        After seeing the photos of the big smokey plume coming from it’s stacks I wonder how hard is it to land in that limited visibility.

    • gwhh

      Still 14 more than the British will have until at least 2020.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      Well, add this to the 30-odd aircraft on land….. plus naval assets.

      I imagine there will be some sort of shock & awe demonstration of same in due course.

  • bhekisisa

    Russia is in Syria to take out an American regime change agent called ISIS, America is in Syria at the invitation of Suid Arabia,Qatar and Turkey the major sponsors of terrorism.

    • johnb33

      Yeah we recruited a bunch of Islamist and said “stand there and look mean so we can bomb you”. Makes sense right?

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      When Russia starts to fight ISIS will you let us know?

  • sferrin

    How large is “massive”?

  • FourWarVet

    With the US and its allies focused on defeating ISIS in Mosul and Raqqa, the Russians are trying to bring an end to the Syrian resistance in Allepo. Clearly, US and RU priorities are divergent. The question is, will this combination of efforts bring an opportunity for stability or improved security in this embattled region?

    • chris chuba

      The ‘Syrian resistance’ is the larger more powerful Al Qaeda groupings.
      Al Qaeda in Iraq split into Al Nusra and ISIS. Al Nusra is in Aleppo or what you term ‘the resistance’.

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    “The United States, time and again, has worked to try and de-escalate the violence in Syria”

    It is a bizarre arrogance of “make it believe” that only baaaad acid “trip” could bring into a fruition.. and what a fiction maaaaan..

    39,000 of every freak in the region alakeada, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Nusria, every low life freak from the every nut-hole come to Syria as a token of “Arab Spring” that was spread all over the region to destroy every Arab country into a “failed state” unfortunately to that lunatic errand some countries have actual citizens who fight for the integrity of their society an had chosen a viable allies to help them to defend the INTEGRITY of their nation.

    A simple reality check Syrian “Democratic Front” was created by “merge” 500 MILLION US Dollars and got 5 only FIVE Syrians of which 3 are still at loose somewhere in the US I would suggest if someone is looking for them (which I doubt..) safe bet would be to check the Disney Land.. because every entity seeks its creator?

    39,000 FOREIGN “volunteers” MERCENARIES injected into an sovereign country is the war crime sooo..??

    • USNVO

      I am sure there is a well reasoned, coherent argument in there somewhere, but for the life of me I just can’t find it, sorry.

      • chris chuba

        It is long winded so I will compress it for you. Assad is not attacking ‘the Syrian people’, he is attacking Al Qaeda and their allies and many of them are from other countries. In even more concise summary, the Pentagon is lying.

      • R’ Yitzchak M

        39000 mercenaries that are supported by the NATO are not anybody’s “freedom-fighters” they are a common murderers that are paid, supported by the foreign “interests” to see the destruction of every legitimate government that is TARGTED for the destruction in order to create another “failed state” that will be swallowed by the “New” World order-REICH.. there is absolutely nothing “new” in this madd mans delirium.. there is only one strange thing in this picture. The whole humanity knows what is the cost for allowing the madman to drive a car? A Bus? An aero plan? And to “drive” the whole globe into the certain abyss is insane? Not just those Napoleon wannabes.. but rather our apathy to allow those lunatics to try the very same”trip” yet once AGAIN? Why?

        • USNVO

          I hate to say it but your post is still an incoherent mess. But that is just me, maybe someone else thinks it makes sense.

  • R’ Yitzchak M

    The only reason the ship is there is to most likely support the eventual evacuation of Russians from Syria as a “token” to the Russian “reset” in US – Russian relationship de facto Russians to give up its “blue waters” navy for the getting back the Ukraine..

    • Michael D. Woods

      It seemed to me that the ships and carrier were to show off Russia’s comeback. It didn’t occur to me that they might be ro support withdrawal or evacuation. You could be right.

    • kpb80

      Russians are there to showcase their arms. Weapons sales were down in 2016, so the Russians want to show their new “products” like Kalibr, Mig-29, etc.

  • old guy

    I believe that the conclusions are wrong. Putin is too cagey to take an actor when he can’t guage the response. Obama is now an uncertain quantity.

  • Bill

    Please USNI, make these comments members only. Enough with the goofy names and Kremlin trolls!

    • Tired_Libertarian

      Aw, come on. They are funny and entertaining.

  • TomD

    This is a live-action training exercise. It will not affect the outcome in Syria very much, but it will be invaluable to the Russians for both diplomatic and readiness reasons.

  • Secundius

    What’s an “Armed Sortie” in this case. Seen Several Video of Russian Fighters Taking-Off, But NONE with ANY Under Wing Ordnance on the planes…