Sunday, 29 June 2014

The delivery of Russian Su-25s to Iraq

By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans 

A video uploaded by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence and a subsequent announcement shed light on Iraq's first success in acquiring a combat capable platform to stop the advance of the Islamic State. The latter has made great progress in capturing large areas of Iraq and is now slowly advancing to Iraq's capital Baghdad.

''The Ministry of Defence announced the arrival of the first out of five Russian combat aircraft Su-25 into Iraqi territory under a contract with the Russian ministry, which will contribute to increasing the combat capability of the Air Force and the other branches of the armed forces to eliminate terrorism.''

The Iraqi Army and Air Force have proved anything but capable to halt the Islamic State's advance and have been desperately looking for other ways to fill the caps currently posed in Iraqi's Armed Forces. With the United States reluctant to provide close air support or speeding up the delivery of Iraq's F-16s, Iraq has been increasingly looking to countries in Eastern Europe to strengthen the Iraqi Air Force (IQAF). It is now clear a batch of five ex-Russian Su-25s are the first to have arrived.

The first Su-25, still in Russian Air Force (RuAF) camouflage and with a hastily applied Iraqi flag and air force roundel, arrived onboard a Russian An-124-100 cargo plane together with ground support equipment on the 28th of June. The Su-25s are believed to have been stored at the Aircraft Repair Plant 121 (ARZ 121) in Kubinka before being flown to Iraq. The contract also included new engines for the aircraft, which were installed just before the delivery flight.

The Iraqi Air Force received around fifty-five Su-25s in the late eighties and were used with devastating effect against Iranian troops near Bashrah during the Iran-Iraq war. Iraq's last Su-25s were destroyed  after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and it is thus unknown if any of the former Su-25 pilots are still capable or willing to fly one of the five Su-25s.

According to various media outlets, the IQAF has four pilots qualified to fly the Su-25s. Maintenance will be performed by Russian contractors, which are to be replaced by Iraqis once they finished their training in Russia.

If not, the Su-25s are likely to be flown by either Belarusian or Russian contractors or even pilots from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force, the air branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps which is also operating Su-25s.

With Iraq's Prime Minister al-Maliki already claiming the aircraft could be flying missions in Iraq within days, planes such as the resilient Su-25s are of great importance for the survival of the current Iraqi government, from stopping the Islamic State further advancing towards Baghad and in taking the fight to the Islamic State, being capable of attacking convoys, munition dumps and other targets of opportunity over a wide range.

The purchase will also serve as a moral boost and is a sign of what might has yet to come, with
other possible purchases including Mi-24s from the Czech Republic and MiG-29s, Su-24s, Su-30s and Mi-24s from Belarus and Russia.

1 comment:

  1. Recent attacks going in Iraq resulting thousands of deaths.Because of these attacks normal people are leaving from Iraq. People are facing many problems to survive from these attacks.In this war Iraq getting support from Russian army, by delivering Su-25 planes to Iraq. So,this could be more helpful for Iraq army.For more details on this: