Air Strikes by VKS & SyAAF, 18 April 2017

Hard on the heels of an ‘all out’ effort of the day before, the VKS continued in similar fashion: 8 fighter-bombers got airborne by 00.18hr, 10 others by 00.39, and 12 more by 01.00… By 01.20, the Russians thus had 34 aircraft over Syria.

Second wave commenced launching at 01.53: ‘just’ 8 aircraft, then a break.

Third wave started at 03.37: ‘just’ 5 aircraft….

Gauging by this alone, the VKS must’ve increased the number of its fighter-bombers at Hmemmem to at least 40, more likely 50 — including a full squadron (12 aircraft each) of Su-24s and Su-25s.

Except for Bashir village in the Jishr ash-Shughour area, hit was also Ma’arat al-Hermah (where 10 civilians were massacred), and then such places in western Aleppo like Atarib, Kfar Hamra and Anadan:

‘Government’ air strikes were reported from Raqqa, too, but I’m not sure if these were from SyAAF or the VKS.

The pace slowed down only during the early morning hours, before the next big wave commenced launching, at 07.13. Run at a slower pace than the one during the night, this still included 14 take-offs during the following two hours. Most of aircraft in question bombed Idlib (city) and the area around it. Others — including two Su-35s — bombed Dera’a:

…while this Su-25 was captured on the video while attacking the Souran area:

At 09.30, the SyAAF joined the ‘party’ by launching a single Su-22 from Shayrat: three others were reportedly airborne over northern Hama and southern Idlib by 09.42. Russians meanwhile continued launching from Hmemmem all the time, Hama dispatched a single MiG-21 at 10.14hrs, Kweres a single Su-22 at 10.32, and Hama a MiG-23 at 10.33. Two other Su-22s bombed Harasta, and one bombed Qaboun:

…while the Russians replaced the SyAAF’s efforts to provide some close-air-support for the Daesh, by bombing FSyA positions in eastern Qalamoun (3 such air strikes were registered):

The action went on in similar style for the rest of the morning: by 12.30hrs, for example Tiyas launched its 5th Su-24-sortie of the day, and — by 12.50 — it’s 3rd Su-22. Similarly, by 12.49hrs, Shayrat began launching its second ‘wave’ of three Su-22s. Hama launched another MiG-21 at 13.05, and gauging by the fact it took them three hours to do so, I would say the Jaysh an-Nasr’s claim for destroying (at least) one MiG-21 in its BM-21-strike two days ago, should be correct. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if two were knocked out: say, one destroyed, another in need of repairs. For similar reasons — i.e. just one MiG-23-take-off from Hama the entire morning, I deduct that Jaysh an-Nasr was right in claiming at least one of these as destroyed. Complete lack of L-39-activity from this air base is indicative that the related part of that claim was almost certainly correct, too. One thing Jaysh an-Nasr didn’t claim would be the destruction of helicopters: however, it was very silent in this regards at Hama yesterday: not one take-off of any helicopter was registered before 17.34.

The Russians just kept on launching over the noon and then well into the afternoon: in period between 07.00hrs and 14.00hrs, they’ve got 65 aircraft airborne. Several of these bombed Latamina:

…and Halfaya:

Another 20 took-off by 15.18: one can’t deny they’ve got some amazing sortie rates. Their activity slowed down only after 16.00hrs.

Following three hours of relatively little activity (primarily by the means of UAVs over southern and central Idlib Governorate, plus the usual VKS Il-20M ELINT/SIGINT-gatherer….

…the evening Russian wave commenced launching at 19.24hrs: 37 aircraft got airborne over the next two hours. Between others, these bombed Anadan.

Two L-39s launched from Hama around 23.00–23.15: first such take-offs in nearly two days. A total of five launched by midnight.

Totals

VKS

fighter-bombers: 155 (+/+ 5–6)

helicopters: 10

UAVs: 12

recce: 1 (possibly 2)

SyAAF

helicopters: 1

L-39: 5

MiG-21: 2

MiG-23: 1

Su-22: 18

Su-24: 19