Khmeimim (air base)

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Khmeimim Air Base
(Latakia Air Base)
Авиабаза «Хмеймим»
القاعدة الجوية الحميمين
Bassel Al-Assad International Airport
Near Latakia in Syria
Russian military aircraft at Latakia, Syria (1).jpg
A Russian Su-24 bomber at Khmeimim airbase, Syria
Khmeimim Air Base is located in Syria
Khmeimim Air Base
Khmeimim Air Base
Position in Syria
Coordinates 35°24′42″N 35°56′42″E / 35.41167°N 35.94500°E / 35.41167; 35.94500
Site information
Owner Syria
Operator Russian Air Force
Site history
Built 2015 (2015)
In use 2015-present
Airfield information
Elevation 48 metres (157 ft) AMSL
Runways
Direction Length and surface
17/35 2,797 metres (9,177 ft) Asphalt

Khmeimim Air Base, also Hmeimim Air Base is a Syrian airbase currently operated by Russia, located south-east of the city of Latakia in Hmeimim, Latakia Governorate, Syria. The airbase shares some airfield facilities with Bassel Al-Assad International Airport. The legal status of the base is regulated by a treaty Russia and Syria signed in August 2015. At the end of 2017, Russia said it had decided to turn the Khmeimim base into a component of its permanent military contingent stationed in Syria.

Name

The name of the air base “Хмеймим” has been transliterated also in other ways, namely Hemeimeem, Hmeymin,[1][2] all based on the local Arabic name, — Arabic: حميميم‎.

History and current legal status

Khmeimim air base was built in mid-2015 adjacent to the Bassel Al-Assad International Airport to serve as "the strategic center of Russia's military operation against Islamic State".[3] The existence of the Russian strategic base was revealed by the United States in early September and American officials expressed concern over the possibility of escalation of the conflict in Syria. The airbase became operational on 30 September 2015.[4][5][6]

On 26 August 2015, in Damascus, Russia and Syria signed a treaty, effective forthwith, that stipulates terms and conditions of use by Russia of Syria's Hmeimim airport, free of charge and with no time limit.[7][8][9][10] The treaty, ratified by Russia′s parliament and signed into law by president Vladimir Putin in October 2016, grants Russia′s personnel and their family members jurisdictional immunity and other privileges as envisaged by Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.[11][12] The Syrian military is in charge of protecting the base perimeter, while the Russian side is responsible for air defense and internal policing of base personnel.[9] The treaty was amended by signing a protocol to the treaty on 18 January 2017.[13][14]

In late December 2017, Russia announced it had set about ″forming a permanent grouping" at Khmeimim as well as at its naval facility in Tartus, after president Putin approved the structure and the personnel strength of the Tartus and Hmeymim bases.[15][16]

President Vladimir Putin and Russian pilots at Khmeimim.
11 December 2017

Operation

Russian aircraft at Khmeimim.
3 October 2015

Within several months in 2015 new infrastructure was built: air-conditioned accommodations for about 1,000 people, an air traffic control tower, runway extensions, storage facilities, field kitchens, and refuelling stations.[17] Supplies were flown in from Russia[3] or shipped via Tartus harbour 50 km (31 mi) away.[17] The base is reported to be capable of handling Antonov An-124 Ruslan and Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft; the deployed aircraft included Sukhoi Su-24s, Sukhoi Su-25s, and Sukhoi Su-34s as well as T-90 tanks, BTR-82 vehicles, artillery, with Mil Mi-24 gunships and Mil Mi-8 support helicopters.[3][17][18]

At the end of September 2015, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, General Philip Breedlove, said that the kind of military infrastructure that Russia had installed in Syria, which included anti-aircraft defence systems, was a de facto no-fly zone: “As we see the very capable air defense [systems] beginning to show up in Syria, we’re a little worried about another A2/AD [anti-access/area denial] bubble being created in the eastern Mediterranean.” (Russia’s third denial zone around Europe)[19][20]

Parade of the units stationed at Khmeimim.
11 December 2017

After the 24 November 2015 shootdown of a Su-24, a S-400 defensive missile system was installed, allowing Russia to defend the air space from Southern Turkey to Northern Israel.[21]

At the end of January 2016, Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets started to be deployed.[22] In February 2016, one Tupolev Tu-214R was reported to have been deployed.[23][24]

At the end of February 2016 and in response to developments at the Geneva peace talks, a truce coordination center had been established at the airbase to coordinate activities of warring parties and "render maximum assistance" to all parties participating in recent ceasefire agreements; the center will not support ISIL, Al-Nusra, and terrorist groups so designated by the UN Security Council.[25]

The Sixth Directorate of the Russian GRU reportedly operated a signals intelligence station by the airport.[26]

Major reported incidents

In November 2016, after the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov lost a MiG-29K fighter due to arrestor cable problems, satellite images indicated that at least some of the carrier's air wing of MiG-29K and Sukhoi Su-33 aircraft had been deployed to Khmeimim.[27]

On 4 January 2018, the Russian MoD stated that on 31 December 2017 the Khmeimim base came under a mortar attack that killed 2 Russian military personnel. The MoD also refuted reports made by a Russian daily Kommersant a day prior that claimed that the mortar attack caused the loss of at least seven aircraft stationed on the base.[28][29][30][31] Russian military journalist Roman Saponkov published photos that, according to him, suggest that no aircraft were destroyed in the attack, but that ten were damaged.[32]

On 6 January 2018, Russian forces reportedly thwarted a drone attack on the base, according to the initial non–Russian reports.[33] On 8 January, Russia′s MoD confirmed the reports about the attempted drone attack, saying that 13 armed drones were used to attack both the Hmeimim base and the Tartus naval facility overnight on 5—6 January; the MoD statement also said: "Engineering solutions used by the terrorists in the attack [...] could have been obtained only from a country possessing high-tech capabilities for providing satellite navigation and remote control."[34][35] On 10 January, the Russian MoD said: ″Participating in the attack on Russian military facilities in Syria on January 5-6 were 13 combat fixed-wing drones. The militants used ten drones in the attempt to hit Hmeymim and another three against Tartus. Claims to the effect a far greater number of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) was involved have nothing to do with the reality. All of the drones forced to land by our radio-electronic warfare means and the debris of the drones shot down have been collected and are being examined by the Russian Defense Ministry.″[36][37] The following day, the Russian president Vladimir Putin said: ″As for these attacks, they were undoubtedly prepared well. We know when and where these unmanned vehicles were handed over [to the attackers], and how many of them there were. These aerial vehicles were disguised — I would like to stress that — as homemade. But it is obvious that some high-tech equipment was used.″[38][39] On 12 January, the Russian MoD said the military had destroyed a group of militants that shelled the Hmeymim airbase, close to the western border of the Idlib province; a Krasnopol projectile was used.[40][41]

References

  1. ^ "Press-tour of the Russian and foreign Media representatives to the Hmeymim airbase in Syria". Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation. 11 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  2. ^ John Wight (24 November 2015). "'Turkey good example of West's duplicity towards ISIS'". RT. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Russian airbase in Syria: RT checks out everyday life at Latakia airfield". RT. 3 October 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  4. ^ Johnlee Varghese (11 November 2015). "Russia in Syria: 50 journalists from 12 countries visit Russian base in Latakia". International Business Times. Retrieved 7 December 2015. 
  5. ^ Luis Martinez (9 September 2015). "Russian Build-Up Continues at Base in Syria, Causing Concern Among US Officials". ABC News. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  6. ^ Rob Crilly (5 September 2015). "Russia 'is building military base in Syria'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  7. ^ "Договор о размещении авиагруппы РФ в САР заключен на бессрочный период" [The agreement on deployment of RF air force group is concluded for a limitless period]. RIA Novosti. 14 January 2015. Retrieved 14 January 2016.  (in Russian)
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ a b "Moscow cements deal with Damascus to keep 49-year presence at Syrian naval and air bases". TASS. 20 January 2017. 
  10. ^ "On Syria, Russia digs in for the long haul with 'indefinite' deployment: Russia has approved a law ratifying Moscow's deal with Syria to deploy its forces in the country indefinitely. This paves the way for permanent Russian military bases in the Middle East as Assad vows to defeat rebels". Deutsche Welle. 14 October 2016. 
  11. ^ "Дума ратифицировала соглашение о бессрочном размещении авиагруппы в Сирии" [Duma ratified agreement on limitless deployment of aviation group in Syria]. TASS. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 8 October 2016.  (in Russian)
  12. ^ Путин подписал закон о размещении авиагруппы ВС РФ в Сирии Interfax, 14 October 2016.
  13. ^ Соглашение между Российской Федерацией и Сирийской Арабской Республикой о размещении авиационной группы Вооруженных Сил Российской Федерации на территории Сирийской Арабской Республики (с изменениями на 18 января 2017 года)
  14. ^ Протокол к Соглашению между Российской Федерацией и Сирийской Арабской Республикой о размещении авиационной группы Вооруженных Сил Российской Федерации на территории Сирийской Арабской Республики от 26 августа 2015 года
  15. ^ Россия начала формировать постоянную группировку в Тартусе и Хмеймиме TASS, 26 December 2017.
  16. ^ "Russia establishing permanent presence at its Syria bases: RIA". Reuters. 26 December 2017. 
  17. ^ a b c "Report from the Syria Frontline". South Front. 3 October 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  18. ^ "New Satellite Imagery Shows Russian Su-24 Jets at the Hmeimim Air Base". Bellingcat. January 20, 2017. Eleven Su-24 jets are visible in the January 10 and 19 satellite imagery, just as there were eleven visible on October 26, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Top NATO general: Russians starting to build air defense bubble over Syria". The Washington Post. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  20. ^ "Putin Has His Own No-Fly Zone in Syria". Bloomberg. 2 October 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  21. ^ "Moscow to deploy S-400 defence missile system to Khmeimim airbase in Syria". RT. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  22. ^ "Russia's cutting edge Su-35 fighters to be on 24-hour alert at Latakia base". RT. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  23. ^ Аналитики обнаружили в Сирии секретный российский самолет-разведчик NEWSru, 16 February 2016.
  24. ^ Russia has just deployed its most advanced spyplane to Syria
  25. ^ "Syria truce center launched at Khmeimim airbase, Russia hands over hotline contact to US". RT. 23 February 2016. 
  26. ^ Matthews, Owen. "Erdogan and Putin: Strongmen in love". Newsweek. Archived from the original on December 30, 2016. The electronic intelligence was gathered, according to the report, by a Russian listening station at Hmemim Airport near Latakia, Syria, operated by the Sixth Directorate of GRU military intelligence. 
  27. ^ Satellite images highlight potential problems with Russia’s lone aircraft carrier November 30, 2016 Washington Post, 30 November 2016.
  28. ^ Soldatkin, Vladimir (3 January 2018). Pomeroy, Robin, ed. "At least seven Russian planes destroyed by shelling at Syrian air base: Kommersant". Reuters. At least four Su-24 bombers, two Su-35S fighters and an An-72 transport plane, as well as an ammunition depot, were destroyed by the shelling, Kommersant said on its website, citing two “military-diplomatic” sources. 
  29. ^ Хмеймим попал под огонь: Радикальные исламисты обстреляли из минометов российскую авиабазу в Сирии Kommersant, 3 January 2018.
  30. ^ "Two military personnel killed in Hmeymim airbase shelling December 31". TASS. 4 January 2018. 
  31. ^ "МО РФ: двое военнослужащих погибли при обстреле авиабазы Хмеймим 31 декабря: В ведомстве также заявили, что сообщения об уничтожении боевиками семи самолетов на авиабазе не соответствуют действительности". TASS (in Russian). 4 January 2018. 
  32. ^ Roblin, Sebastien (January 4, 2018). "Did Russia Really Lose Seven Warplanes in Syria on New Year's Eve?". Bright Mountain Media, Inc. Retrieved January 4, 2018. According to Saponkov, no aircraft were destroyed but 10 aircraft were damaged, including six Su-24s, one Su-35S, one An-72, one An-30 turboprop observation plane and an Mi-8 transport helicopter. He also claimed that two Su-24s and one Su-35S have returned to operational status. 
  33. ^ Syria war: Russia thwarts drone attack on Hmeimim airbase BBC, 7 January 2018.
  34. ^ Russia Says 13 Drones Used In Attack On Its Air Base, Naval Facility In Syria Radio Liberty, 8 January 2018.
  35. ^ Пентагон: атаковавшие базы РФ в Сирии беспилотники находятся в открытой продаже TASS, 9 January 2018.
  36. ^ Reports of 31 drones attacking Russian facilities in Syria untrue, says defense official TASS, 10 January 2018.
  37. ^ Минобороны опубликовало новое фото беспилотников, атаковавших Хмеймим RIA Novosti, 10 January 2018.
  38. ^ Putin slams drone attack on Russian base in Syria as provocation: These provocations are aimed at destroying previous agreements, the Russian president said TASS, 11 January 2018.
  39. ^ Путин заявил, что знает, кто совершил провокацию в Сирии RIA Novosti, 11 January 2018.
  40. ^ Russian military eliminates militants who shelled Hmeymim airbase December 31 TASS, 12 January 2018.
  41. ^ Минобороны объявило об уничтожении террористов, обстрелявших российскую базу Хмеймим в Сирии (ВИДЕО)

External links

  • Russian Aerospace Forces: Photo Gallery
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