Khmeimim (air base)

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Khmeimim Air Base
(Latakia Air Base)
Авиабаза «Хмеймим»
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
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. While the airbase shares some airfield facilities with Bassel Al-Assad International Airport, it is only accessible to Russian personnel.[1] In January 2017, Russia and Syria signed a treaty to lease it to Russia for 49 years, extendable for an additional 25.[2][3]


The name of the air base “Хмеймим” has been transliterated also in other ways, namely Hemeimeem, Hmeymin,[4][5] all based on the local Arabic name.


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".[6] 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.[7][8][9]

During September 2015 the air base came under rocket attack by local Syrian rebels apparently using Grad missiles.[1]

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)[10][11]

The Su-24 shoot-down by Turkish fighters on 24 November 2015 was reported to be when the Russian jet was on its way to return to Khmeimim.[12]

The military Tu-154 that crashed with loss of 92 lives on December 25, 2016 was on a flight from Sochi to Khmeimim.


The new infrastructure was erected "from scratch".[6] Air-conditioned accommodations were built within a few months in 2015 for about 1,000 people.[6][9] Other new structures included an air traffic control tower,[9] runway extensions,[1] storage facilities, field kitchens, and refuelling stations.[13] Supplies were flown in from Russia[6] or shipped via Tartus harbour 50 km (31 mi) away.[13]

The base can handle Antonov An-124 Ruslan and Ilyushin Il-76 transport aircraft and can accommodate[clarification needed] more than 50 military aircraft including Sukhoi Su-24s, Sukhoi Su-25s, and Sukhoi Su-34s.[6][13][14] In addition, the base is home to T-90 tanks, BTR-82 vehicles, artillery, with Mil Mi-24 gunships and Mil Mi-8 support helicopters.

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.[15]

At the end of January 2016, Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets started to be deployed.[16]

In February 2016, one Tupolev Tu-214R was reported to have been deployed.[17][18]

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.[19]

On 14 March 2016, President Putin announced the start of a withdrawal of Russian forces from Syria; Khmeimim, however, will continue to be used as a Russian airbase. By this time, over 9,000 sorties had been conducted since September 2015.[20]

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.[21]

The Sixth Directorate of the Russian GRU reportedly operated a signals intelligence station by the airport.[22]

Legal status

The air base facilities are currently used by the Russian Aerospace Forces under an agreement signed with the Syrian government.[2] 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.[2] The agreement was signed on 18 January 2017, with both the Russian and Arabic versions of the text having equal value.[23] It has a duration of 49 years, and includes a clause for a tacit renewal for an additional 25 years.[2]


  1. ^ a b c "Syria rebels target airport used by Russia". NOW. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Moscow cements deal with Damascus to keep 49-year presence at Syrian naval and air bases". TASS (in Russian). Retrieved 28 January 2017. 
  3. ^ "New Russia-Syria accord allows up to 11 warships in Tartus port simultaneously". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 30 January 2017. 
  4. ^ "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. 
  5. ^ John Wight (24 November 2015). "'Turkey good example of West's duplicity towards ISIS'". RT. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d e "Russian airbase in Syria: RT checks out everyday life at Latakia airfield". RT. 3 October 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Luis Martinez (9 September 2015). "Russian Build-Up Continues at Base in Syria, Causing Concern Among US Officials". ABC News. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Rob Crilly (5 September 2015). "Russia 'is building military base in Syria'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  10. ^ "Top NATO general: Russians starting to build air defense bubble over Syria". The Washington Post. 29 September 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  11. ^ "Putin Has His Own No-Fly Zone in Syria". Bloomberg. 2 October 2015. Retrieved 23 December 2015. 
  12. ^ "Минобороны РФ: российский Су-24 сбили при возвращении на авиабазу в Сирии" (in Russian). Russian News Agency TASS. 24 November 2015. Retrieved 24 November 2015. 
  13. ^ a b c "Report from the Syria Frontline". South Front. 3 October 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  14. ^ "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. 
  15. ^ "Moscow to deploy S-400 defence missile system to Khmeimim airbase in Syria". RT. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  16. ^ "Russia's cutting edge Su-35 fighters to be on 24-hour alert at Latakia base". RT. 6 February 2016. Retrieved 6 February 2016. 
  17. ^ Аналитики обнаружили в Сирии секретный российский самолет-разведчик NEWSru, 16 February 2016.
  18. ^ Russia has just deployed its most advanced spyplane to Syria
  19. ^ "Syria truce center launched at Khmeimim airbase, Russia hands over hotline contact to US". RT. 23 February 2016. 
  20. ^ "9,000 sorties, 400 localities freed: What Russia has achieved during its 5-month Syria operation". RT. 14 March 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2016. 
  21. ^ Satellite images highlight potential problems with Russia’s lone aircraft carrier November 30, 2016 Washington Post Retrieved March 13, 2017
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ "Russia to Deploy Aircraft at Hmeymim Airbase in Syria Free of Charge". Retrieved 28 January 2017. 

External links

  • Russian Aerospace Forces: Photo Gallery
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