The air forces of Turkey declared the ‘orange’ level of alarm which means ‘full readiness for anything’ and that pilots got the right to open fire without coordination with the command. At the same time the InformNapalm’s volunteers found information about the reinforcement of the Russian air forces in Syria.
On January 30, the mil-avia blog published a news about a Tu-154 aircraft (tail No. RA-85042) which flew as a group leader on the route RFF7087 (Privolzhsky airfield, Astrakhan – Hmeymim airbase, Syria). The author referred to the Flightradar24 service’s data.
The next day, on January 31, several interesting photos of a group of the Russian Su-35S warplanes (with side numbers ‘red’ 03, 04, 05, 06 and, supposedly, 08) were uploaded to an aeromodeller forum. The planes had light camouflage pattern. It is interesting that the pictures were made from a civil plane, which was identified by our volunteers as Tu-154.
It should be noted that the light camouflage is used for Su-35S jets built in 2014 and later. This is the information from open sources:
The planes shipped in 2014 include 24 multipurpose Su-35S fighters built by Komsomolsk-on-Amur aircraft factory (branch of ‘Sukhoi Company’): 12 of them (with ‘red’ side numbers from ’01’ to ’12’ , dark top & light bottom coloring) were produced in accordance with a plan for 2013 and transferred to the Russian air forces on February 12, 2014. Eight of them became part of the recreated 23rd fighter aviation regiment of the 303rd guards mixed air division of the Russian 3rd Air Defense and Air Forces Command at Dzemgi airfield (Khabarovsk krai), and four units joined the 929th state flight-test center in Akhtubinsk. First three Su-35S warplanes built according to the plan for 2014 were taken into service on October 10, 2014, five in November, and four more in December of 2014. Their side numbers are unknown, but the color scheme is ‘light camouflage’. All of them were deployed to the 23rd fighter aviation regiment in Dzemgi, increasing its Su-35S aircraft park up to 20 units. All these fighters were produced under the Russian Ministry of Defense’s contract from August of 2009 for 48 Su-35S warplanes. Thus, as of beginning of 2015, the total number of the fighters built under this agreement was 34.
Based on this information, we can assume that the Russian air group in Syria was strengthened by 5 Su-35S aircrafts from the 23rd fighter aviation regiment (Khabarovsk krai).
UPD: We were able to find pictures of 3 Su-35S jets made by spotters. The photos were taken by a blogger at Privolzhskyi airfield (Astrakhan Oblast, Russia) and uploaded on January 28-31, 2016:
Su-35S, ‘red 03’, RF-95813 (archive)
Su-35S, ‘red 05’, RF-95815 (archive)
Su-35S, ‘red 06’, RF-95816 (archive)
Original article translated by Stepan Grishin