Syria - Downed Russian aircraft IL-20

Updates will be provided as needed in either the revelant section or as a new sub-heading.

Section A
19 September Airspace Restrictions

#Syria #RussianNavy. #NOTAM

#Navarea III warnings:

Restricted no-fly zones for Russian Naval exercises, limiting Israeli AF access to much higher altitudes.

#Syria #RussianNavy. #NOTAM

Restricted no-fly zones.

After the shooting down of IL-20, a significant change has happened.
The location & numbers of red coloured sections on today’s map speak volumes on Russian responses. Compare it to Tuesday’s map.

“ it would be steps that everyone will notice, "- President Putin is reported to have said in relation to taking responses to the latest Israeli military attack.

Ah... the Israelis are sending a delegation to Moscow:

Something is not adding up here. Is Russia being polite in taking the action they are? Are they covering for Israel by this spectacular window dressing?

The NOTAM map wasn’t full of red boxes yesterday.

Movements of US Navy P-8s over Eastern Mediterranean indicates probable presence of вмф corresponding to NOTAM areas:
Here’s one example:

Just in case you’re wondering about the locations to the south west of Cyprus, that would be where US Navy frequently loiters for Replenishment At Sea (look up when USNS Big Horn was last deployed in Med for example).

But also guessing that is where the ‘Admiral Essen’ could be too as an outlier- covering the air routes used by NATO, (having just left Poros in Greece).
USNS Big Horn

Lastly, the USS Harry Truman has headed eastwards. The US routinely sends over a carrier or two for decades.

US carrier in 6th Fleet operational zone.

“to conduct full spectrum of maritime ops. CSG's return gives us opportunity to operate & train w/ @NATO allies & partners... to secure safe & prosperous region for all.” Vice Admiral Franchetti.

Section B
18 September Russian Naval activities in Syria…

"Taking part in the search for the crew of the Russian Ilyushin-20 plane, which crashed off Latakia, are eight ships and boats from Russia’s Navy.”

The ‘Professor Nikolay Muru’ is in position off Banias.

Update: the ‘Seliger’ has transited the Bosphorus. It will no doubt retrieve the remains of the crew, parts of the plane for forensic assessments and remove military sensitive equipment from the wreckage of the Ilyushin IL-20 surveillance plane. Much in the same way the Northern Fleet based ‘Yantar’ did with a crashed Su-30 last May.

Interesting: “Seliger vessel (Project 11982) is heading to the crash scene, carrying deep submergence vehicles and also navigation and sonar gear.”

More info

The wreckage of the Russian reconnaissance aircraft IL-20, shot down off the coast of #Syria, found 27 km west of the village of Banias in the Syrian province of Latakia. On Tuesday, September 18, reports Meduza with reference to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.

Tou will notice from the Russian MoD image that the ‘Pytlivy’ was in the vicinity of the French Navy ‘Auvergne’.

For info: Israeli AF has previously launched air strikes against Syria from Lebanese airspace or using Lebanese airspace to transit.

So the fact that the ‘Auvergne’ was used as a kind of waypoint is interesting. Begs the question: did the French help the Israeli AF?

Similar, plenty of aircraft activities noted on the day and in the hours leading up to the airstrikes, including one US P-8.

Was the #USNavy P-8 in the Eastern Mediterranean doing some last minute data gathering for the Israeli air strike?

Miscoded US aircraft - USAF either P8 or Rivet Joint? recorded track off the coast of #Syria…

#RussianNavy #вмф

The PLA Navy in the Mediterranean -

From time to time, some ‘news’ takes on a weird turn:

Chinese Navy is going to help the Russian Navy Mediterranean

This buzz is on social media. Well, it isn’t true and just plain wishful thinking on the part of some people. We had the exact rumour back in April, at a time of heightened crisis, same situation, same rumour. That proved to be unfounded and this is the latest reincarnation.

Putting that erroneous news story to bed.

Well it so happens that the PLA Navy routinely sends out a naval group to the Gulf of Aden.

Officially known as the Escort Task Force (ETF), this deployment has been ongoing since 2008. The ETF is primarily tasked with escorting merchant shipping through potential hostile waters.

Update: the handover in images

Given that piracy in the area has considerably waned, this has enabled the PLA(N) to extend the ETF deployments to include diplomacy missions. At its core is a counter-piracy operation, which is very useful for the PLAN as it gives vital long-distance operational experience to its Fleet. Secondly, the ships carry out overseas goodwill visits. It is this aspect that is significant and it is attention-grabbing.

Here’s the latest 3-ship rotation that left China on 6th August.

“The navy had escorted 6,400 Chinese and foreign vessels.”

Notice the number 30th? That’s the 30th rotation and each rotation typically lasts four months.

Latest to go are the:

Frigates ‘Handan’ and ‘Wuhu’.
replenishment oiler Dongpinghu

Replacing the

‘Xuzhou’ and ‘Binzhou’
Replenishment oiler ‘Qiandaohu’
Brest, France in July. Prior to that, it was in Germany and Poland.

It appears that the ‘Binzhou’ is back in the Gulf of Aden area, having transited the Mediterranean and Suez Canal.

The 30th Chinese naval ETF is expected to arrive in the Gulf of Aden in early September and take over the escort mission from the 29th ETF.

When the 30th ETF arrives and after a short handover period, all of the 29th ETF will then go on a goodwill voyage. Just like other groups have done so in the past.

The 28th did so sailing around Africa,and in the process, just happened to have transited the Med, calling into Ghana, Cameroon and Gabon. It finally called into South Africa before heading home.

Likewise, the 27th ETF went to Algiers in January of this year. It included both the:

The guided-missile destroyer ‘Haikou’ and the guided-missile frigate Yueyang’.

So the fact that one or two Chinese Navy ships are seen in the Mediterranean and/or seen transiting the Suez Canal, gets twisted in a great rumour that it was going to ‘help’ the Russian Navy. They didn’t then and won’t be this time round.

The origins of this may well come from the fact that one of the 16th ETF did assist in the maritime operation to remove and destroy Syrian chemical weapons back in 2013.

Mediterranean naval update 31 Aug

The story on the Russian Navy increased presence in the Eastern Mediterranean is developing further than just a naval‘red line’ scenario.

Russian MoD said that hold large-scale drills will be held in the Eastern Mediterranean on Sept. 1-8 after Western countries threatened to bomb Syria again
25 Russian naval ships and 30 warplanes are scheduled to take part.

This combined air & sea Mediterranean exercise is the first ever in the history of the modern Russian Navy, especially using 4 different & distant ship groupings:

The commander of the Navy Admiral Vladimir Korolev gave a TV briefing in which the areas are mapped out:

Notice how the Russian Navy is spread out as a screen.
- interlinked radar, ECM & other systems to monitor and track. Hence the use of the Caspian Flotilla ships. (Makes senses to redeploy the Buyan-Class out of the Caspian, as it increases their combat readiness skills ++++, get their liin’s share of action and makes use of their technology). The US would have deploy more assets to hinder and jam the Russian systems.

Certainly a multiplayer cat and mouse situation. The only weakness to this all is land-based.

The naval force will include ships from the Russian Northern, Baltic, Black Sea fleets and the Caspian Flotilla with the missile cruiser ‘Marshal Ustinov’,as flagship.

Destroyers (Northern Sea Fleet)

Yaroslav Mudryy
(ASW screen)

Frigates (Black Sea Fleet)

Admiral Grigorovich
Admiral Essen

Admiral Makarov (Black Sea Fleet but hasn’t got there yet!)

Small missile ships (Black Sea Fleet & Caspian Flotilla)

Vyshniy Volochek
Grad Sviyazhsk
Velikiy Ustyug


Velikiy Novgorod
Possibility of Krasnodar

And remote possibility of ‘Orel’. (Maybe stretching the OSINT here but I don’t have confirmation that it is back with the Northern Sea Fleet)
href="" target="_blank">2 Submarines to take part in ex confirmed
Valentin Pikul

The air components is reported to consist of:

- Tu-160 strategic bombers,
- Tu-142MK &
- Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft,
- Su-33 &
- Su-30SM naval aviation fighters.

Side note: How does thid fleet compare to April’s situation?

The Mediterranean group was 15 from Black Sea Fleet combat ships & also auxiliaries. It was reinforced by anti-sub patrol aircrafts: Il-38H.
Land components that were deployed; - S400,
- Pantsir-S1 (stationed at Hmeymim & Tartus port).

7 frontline ships are modern type or have been modernised.

Consequently, another round of NOTAMS have been issued for Russian Navy live firing exercises. But by now these aren’t really a gauge of what is to be expected, as dozens and dozens have been issued over the years (some for real & others as a safeguard, precautionary measure as seen by the Wednesday's issue).

One NOTAM warning issued on Wednesday and one on Friday so far this week. More to come. Today’s might be linked to this:

US & allies can have missiles ready to strike Syria within 24 hours – Russian Foreign Ministry on.

US concerned by possibility of offensive in Idlib — Department of State

The US military’s view is summed up in this section (as reported in CNN article:

By having so many ships there, the Russians can attempt to use their shipborne radars to blanket that area and "see" any potential US Tomahawk missiles coming, the official says. One scenario the US is considering is that Russian shipborne radars could then cue Russian S-400 class anti-air systems on the ground in Syria and try to shoot US missiles down.
This would give the Russians a better chance of shooting down US missiles than in April 2018 when Russia was unsuccessful after the US, UK and France launched strikes against targets at three sites after an alleged chemical weapons attack on civilians in the Damascus enclave of Douma.

The US intelligence community has a very good understanding of what the Russians are trying to do with this seaborne strategy, officials tell CNN. It is also well known that the US military could use jamming and electronic warfare countermeasures against any Russian military efforts. In the April strikes against Syrian chemical targets, US and allied ships and aircraft fired from not only the Mediterranean but the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf to avoid Russian detection.

NATO noticed the naval group:

Sometimes you’ve got to laugh at the lurid headlines, this one is a good ‘un:

The two ships in this image just happen to be the ‘Nikolay Filchenkov'and'Orsk', both landing ships that came with the ‘Pytlivyy‘, doing their latest run of the ‘Syrian Express’ logistical shuttle service. Hardly what I’d call a huge group or call it the fleet. Maybe because I have an idea that the combat component is at sea. Judging by the last reported position of one of the auxiliaries, (30 August), an element of the group is far out at sea and not off Lattakia. The NOTAMS give a clue (there again are most journalists aware of these and Navtex warnings- I doubt it).

Update on Russian Navy deployments:

The Royal Navy recently escorted an AGI ship,Project 18280,‘Yury Ivanov‘. The 2nd time that minehunter HMS Hurworth in a week through the English Channel
Maybe another heading to the Med.

Meanwhile the flip side to the Russian exercise is "Bright Star 2018". Land, naval and air forces of the United States will join in Middle East largest drills in September.

US Navy top officers are holding a meeting:

“The heads of 6th Fleet and the newly reborn 2nd Fleet convened Thursday at the Navy’s European headquarters to discuss how they will monitor an increasingly assertive Russian navy, which is now massing warships in the Mediterranean Sea for large-scale exercises.”

Down in the Gulf of Aden the USS Jason Dunham has made a weapons seizure off Yemen.

The US nuclear submarine ‘USS Newport News’ (SSN 750) arrived in Gibraltar on a portcall.

The UN envoy to Syria offered to help get civilians out of Idlib, (how realistic this is, given that previous humanitarian corridors were used by militant groups (terrorists)to shoot civilians on sight, to deter them from attempting to leave).

There is much speculation, worry that an escalation might happen, ‘interesting viewpoints’ made: (this is one ⤵️ Whishful thinking ?)

Mediterranean naval cat and mouse games

❓❓Just what exactly is the #Russian MoD up by stating the USS Ross just deployed to Mediterranean?

Lost in translation, mind games? or making themselves look like fools? ❓❓

The USS Ross has always been foward-deployed from Rota in the Med for a few years now. Recently called into Toulon on 19-20 August. (So I’d call that bit the Mediterranean). Not just entered but actually in it.

The Russian MoD also recently alluded to the USS Sullivans as being recently deployed in the Gulf, but in fact has been there since July.

The anticipation of something serious happening some time soon is being drummed up day by day.

❗️❗️The USS Carney has now exited the #BlackSea and is in the Aegean Sea heading for the Med.

Theoretically, this means 3 Arleigh Burke class DDGs in central & eastern Med:

USS Carney
USS Donald Cook
USS Ross (?)

All of which are forward-deployed from Rota and are known to ‘roam’ about the Mediterranean on their naval taskings. Not that many journalists will pick up on this or actually check the authenticity of the Russian MoD statement.

One more DDG in Gulf and one in northern Red Sea.

Plus the Russian MoD reported on B1 Lancers in Qatar. (Any substantiated confirmation?)

It seems that the “Cat and mouse games” have started on the sea, under and over it. Last time this happened, missiles strikes took place in response to the Eastern Ghouta incident.

And while you are reading this, take a pinch of salt. Rumour control is on fire.


Naval Sitrep - Med

25 August 2018

 The last couple of days have seen a recent uptick in Russian Navy naval deployments into the Mediterranean. 

Of interest is the recent transit of 3 ships together through the Bosphorus, ('Pytivyy' along with 2 LSTs ships on the 'Syrian Express' run). was followed up later by 'Admiral Grigorovich' and 'Admiral Essen'. Two additions to be forward-deployed from Tartus.

'Pytivyy' replaced 'Smetlivy' on Med Squadron duties.

At a time when there is increased angst over potential intensification of military operations in Idlib, the US feigned 'concern'and dissimulated combined hint and threat expressed over potential future use of chemical weapons in Syria, it is not surprising that there is a further Russian military build-up in the region.

Once more the US draws a red line, the same way as Obama did in 2013, which resulted in the CW Ghouta false flag ‘event’.

The Russian military build-up is probably Russia’s way of placing a naval ‘red line’ in response to the US ongoing troubling political shenanigans.

The ‘Yaroslav Mudry' recently transited the Suez Canal from the Red Sea. Northern Sea Fleet based Slava class 'Marshal Ustinov' and Udaloy class 'Severomorsk' recently called into Algeria for a port call.

'Admiral Makarov' transited the Channel last weekend under the watchful eye of the Royal Navy, en route to the Black Sea homeport of Sevastopol. So maybe a possibility of a slight 'detour' off Tartus.

There will be shortly a few more Kalibr-carrying warships off the Syrian coast to add to the list, (those highlighted in red in image below).

I forget to add that the Russian MoD mentioned the DDG ‘USS Sullivans’, which has been in the Gulf since July.

The two improved Kilos are likely to be the: 'Kolpino' and 'Velikiy Novgorod'. No surprises to see or hear that other Russian submarines could be in the Med/might  deploy there.

To note: Only major and combat surface ships are included in the above image.  There are also two minesweepers/ mine hunters forward-deployed (Turbinist and Valentin Pikul) plus the LSTs that shuttle to and fro (Syrian Express), the 'Nikolay Filchenkov' and 'Orsk' the latest participants.Lastly,there is always one AGI on duty:Moma-class intelligence ship ‘Kildin’  

Not forgetting a host of auxiliary support ships are also forward-deployed from Tartus such as  heavy lift- buoy tender 'KIL 158', potentially the rescue tug ‘Professor Nikolay Muru' and 'SB304', oiler 'Ivan Bubnov', port defence Grachonok class patrol boats,  plus the chartered Ro-Ro ships that are also part of the Syrian Express (for years now)

PS Did the ‘Orel’ (Project 949A Antey) nuclear-powered SSN submarine actually return to the Northern Sea Fleet homeport?


Once in a while I will try to take the opportunity to blog a short article on something newsworthy.

My next blog posting will be on the fire figthing planes. One : Canadair CL 415, (the 215 version - so so impressive in my childhood) and the debate suitable future replacements in Europe.

They are the unsung hardworking workhorses of the forest fire seasons in several countries.

The other version is the Beriev Be-200 Altair built in Russia.

In the meantime I’ll leave you dear readers with this: