on May 30, 2020, Syrian state media has reported that the country’s armed forces received new MiG-29 fourth-generation medium-weight fighter jets, with a delivery ceremony held at Russia’s Khmeimim Airbase in Latakia Province where the aircraft arrived.
Confirming the delivery of the MiG-29s, the Russian Embassy in Syria on Wednesday (June 3, 2020) tweeted that the second batch of the combat aircraft had joined the Arab country’s military.
Russia’s confirmation on the MiG-29s delivery comes just four days after Syrian news agency SANA reported that the Mikoyan-Gurevich combat aircraft had joined the Syrian Arab Air Force. Russian defence officials claim the MiG-29s supplied to Syria have several advanced capabilities making them more than a match for Israel’s F-16 Fighting Falcons.
Initially developed and designed for aerial combat, the MiG-29 has over the years incorporated several advanced capabilities to become a multirole fighter. Apart from Syria, air forces of over 30 countries operate the MiG-29s including the Russian Aerospace Forces, Indian Air Force (IAF), Uzbekistan Air and Air Defence Forces and Polish Air Force.
The development also comes days after the United States of America accused Russia of sending its fighter jets including MiG-29s to Libya, another civil-war torn Arab country. According to the United States Africa Command, Russia sent at least 14 MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-24s to Libya following a stopover at Syria’s Hmeimim airbase.
Russia has been backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the ongoing civil war in the country with military hardware. Russian forces have been accused by the US and it allies of targeting Bashar al-Assad’s opponents using indiscriminate force.
The report indicated that Syrian pilots would begin operating the aircraft immediately. Syria already operates two squadrons of older MiG-29A fighters, which were delivered by the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and have since seen some conservative attempts to modernise them.
The older aircraft have been equipped with active radar-guided R-77 air to air missiles, but due to their higher operating costs they have not been extensively used for air to ground missions during the country’s nine-year long counterinsurgency efforts – with the Air Force favouring lighter MiG-21 jets which consume less fuel.