Accusation: Russia’s New Base in Iran to Beat US Satellite Intel Used to Protect ISIS

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Russia decided to use the Hamadan airfield in Iran to prevent terrorists from spying on its strategic aircraft taking part in the Moscow-led counterterrorism operation in Syria, the Vzglyad newspaper asserted.

The business daily maintained that spying appears to have become a major issue since some radical groups fighting in Syria have lately succeeded in hiding from incoming Russian airstrikes. This, according to the media outlet, seems to indicate that someone has been tracking Russian strategic aircraft and sharing this information with the militants.

“We would rather not point fingers but jihadists and ‘moderate’ rebels who joined them have managed to hide from Russian warplanes suspiciously too often. This could only be done if they have access to satellite surveillance data,” the business daily suggested.

Vzglyad emphasized that radical groups lack equipment, particularly satellites and electronic warfare systems, needed to track long-range bombers as they take off from the Engels Air Force Base located east of the Russian city of Saratov.

“There are grounds to assume that someone interested and generous could provide this information to those who fight against Assad,” the media outlet noted.

This is one of the reasons behind Russia’s decision to use the Hamadan airfield in Iran as a launching ground for airstrikes against Daesh and al-Nusra Front in Syria. Russian aircraft deployed to Iran need less time to reach their goals in the war-torn country. In other words, the militants have less time to hide even if they know that an airstrike is imminent.There is another advantage to using Hamadan, Vzglyad noted. The airfield is located in an area that is protected against incoming cruise missile strikes due to its terrain.

On August 15, an undisclosed number of Tupolev Tu-22M3 supersonic long-range strategic bombers and Sukhoi Su-34 strike fighters left the airfield in the Russian town of Mozdok located in the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania and landed at the Hamadan airfield in Iran.

The next day, these warplanes took part in what the Russian Defense Ministry described as a “concentrated airstrike.”Five large ammunition depots with weapons, munitions and fuel, as well as militant training camps near the cities of Serakab, Al-Ghab, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor cities were destroyed in this attack. Russian bombers razed to the ground three command and control centers near the cities of Jafra and Deir ez-Zor and killed a “significant number of militants.”

These facilities, the ministry added, were used to support and assist radical groups fighting near Aleppo.

“Our bombers no longer need to take off from Mozdok, then cross the Caspian Sea, Iran and Iraq” to reach their targets, defense analyst Victor Litovkin told Izvestiya. In addition, Russia does not have to use Ilyushin Il-78 aerial refueling tankers in this case.

The geostrategic importance of this step is more important than military advantages, the expert added, since it shows that “Iran has openly become Russia’s ally in the anti-Daesh fight.”


Russia deployed Tupolev Tu-22M3 supersonic long-range strategic bombers to the Hamadan airfield in Iran to cut flight times, increase bomb capacity and improve response capabilities of its aircraft taking part in the operation to liberate Aleppo since the outcome of this battle could well determine the future of Syria.

The Tu-22M3 deployment “does not merely help to save time and fuel,” Svobodnaya Pressa reported. “Missions launched from the Hamadan airfield allow Russian aircraft to significantly increase bomb capacity of each plane.” They are estimated to be capable of carrying three times greater payload.

In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, a Russian Tu-22M3 bomber stands on the tarmac while another plane lands at an air base near Hamedan, Iran.

On August 15, an undisclosed number of the Tupolev Tu-22M3s and the Sukhoi Su-34s left the airfield in the Russian town of Mozdok located in the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania and landed at the Hamadan airfield in Iran.

Some have questioned why the Tu-22M3s bombers were not deployed to Hmeymim since the Russian airbase in Syria is closer to Aleppo thenHamadan. The reason is simple. The Tu-22M3s are too heavy to use the airstrip in Hmeymim. But the base played a major part in the latest counterterrorism offensive. The Su-30SM and Su-35S aircraft that provided cover for the Russian bombers deployed to Iran took off from the base in Syria.This tactic paid off. On August 16, Russian airstrikes destroyed five large ammunition depots with weapons, munitions and fuel, as well as militant training camps near the cities of Serakab, Al-Ghab, Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor cities. In addition, Russian bombers razed to the ground three command and control centers near the cities of Jafra and Deir ez-Zor. A “significant number of militants” were killed in what the Russian Defense Ministry described as a “concentrated airstrike.”

These facilities, the ministry added, were used to support and assist radical groups fighting near Aleppo.

“The Russian Armed Forces have never carried out such a major and well-coordinated operation in terms of timing, multiple fronts and targets,” the media outlet observed.

Defense analyst Anatoly Nesmiyan told Svobodnaya Pressa that the decision to deploy bombers to the Hamadan air base could have been made “in response to Iran’s discontent with the situation around Aleppo.”

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, he added, were not happy that air cover did not arrive as fast as they needed it. “Perhaps, Iran allowed Russia to use its air base under condition that Russian aircraft will focus more on bombing rebel-held areas in Aleppo.”

Nesmiyan emphasized that Russian planes have long been active in the region, but they could not respond fast to militant offensives.The analyst mentioned several challenges that the Russian-led counterterrorism coalition has faced. For instance, cooperation between Russian, Syrian and Iranian troops has not been fully established. “In addition, there are not enough planes at Hmeymim to strike all targets,” he added.

Defense analyst Andrey Frolov, the editor-in-chief of Arms Export magazine, also pointed to time as the main issue behind the decision to send Russian bombers to Iran. He also mentioned several reasons behind the Tu-22M3 deployment.

In this photo taken on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016, A Russian Tu-22M3 bomber stands on the tarmac at an air base near Hamedan, Iran.

Firstly, it helps “to drastically cut flight time and response time to militant activities,” he said. “Using Hamadan also helps to increase bomb capacity. In addition, the Tu-22M3s could be used in the same way as the US employed the B-1B Lancers in their recent campaigns, for direct fire support operations.”

Svobodnaya Pressa also pointed out that the Tu-22M3 deployment was part of a larger change in the strategic landscape with regard to the Syrian battlefield.On August 12, the Zelenyy Dol and Serpukhov corvettes carrying eight Kalibr-NK cruise missiles left Sevastopol heading for Syrian shores. Meanwhile, a surface action group, comprising the Tatarstan and Dagestan frigates, as well as the Grad Sviyazhsk and Velikiy Ustyug corvettes, was deployed to the Caspian Sea. These ships were carrying a total of 24 Kalibr-NK cruise missiles.


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4 COMMENTS

  1. Do they need satellite intel? How about a spotter near the Russian Air base who logs onto an internet game site and spreads the info of x number of bombers, and time. Flight time is estimated and a safety margin is established. Then it’s everyone to the fox holes!
    Surely american satellite intel works for Iran too. But the they would find it harder to have spotters in Iran!

    • What about the chancellor-dictator Merkel (German) airforce spotters, gathering information to be provided only to the “U.S. coalition” ? Certainly their twice daily flights provided information that assisted the US-Israeli insurgents in Syria.

  2. “radical groups lack equipment, particularly satellites…needed to track long-range bombers….There are grounds to assume that someone interested and generous could provide this information” ….some privately owned satellite company like INMARSAT crawling with Cartel?

  3. The only Terrorists spying on the Russians and their flight operations are the Americans/Israelis, Saudis and their surveillance teams in the Med. and inland. Backstabbin sand nigs – they are

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