navigation-background arrow-down-circle Reply Icon Show More Heart Delete Icon wiki-circle wiki-square wiki arrow-up-circle add-circle add-square add arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up calendar-circle chat-bubble-2 chat-bubble check-circle check close contact-us credit-card drag menu email embed facebook-circle snapchat-circle facebook-square facebook faq-circle faq film gear google-circle google-square googleplus history home instagram-circle instagram-square instagram linkedin-circle linkedin-square linkedin load monitor Video Player Play Icon person pinterest-circle pinterest-square pinterest play readlist remove-circle remove-square remove search share share2 sign-out star trailer trash twitter-circle twitter-square twitter youtube-circle youtube-square youtube

Israeli Spy Sats Keep Sharp Eye on Russian Forces in Syria

October 22, 2015 (Photo Credit: ImageSat International)

 

 

TEL AVIV — Israel’s high-resolution eyes in space are keeping close track of Russian efforts to fortify the flailing regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as evidenced by imagery obtained by Defense News from just one satellite.

Images captured earlier this month from the Eros-B, a dual-use imaging satellite owned and operated by ImageSat International, reveal high operational tempo at Latakia International Airport, where Moscow has based some 12 Su-25 fighters, a similar amount of Su-24 bombers, 16 Mi-35 attack helicopters and a small amount of Su-30 and Su-34 aircraft.

 

635811145637940001-DFN-Syria-Russian-fighters5
Satellite imagery dated Oct. 3, 2015 shows extensive Russian presence in Latakia International Airport. Four Sukhoi-34 advanced strike fighters on taxiway.
Photo Credit: ImageSat International

Outsized Antonov 124 and Ilyushin Il-76 cargo aircraft are seen offloading additional cargo, all of which is protected by at least one SAM-22 surface-to-air missile system.

In an image dated Oct. 10, support vehicles and open cockpit canopies indicate high levels of alert while another image taken on the same day shows a foursome of Su-30 attack fighters in so-called fast launch positions at the end of the runway.

 

635811145639500011-DFN-Syria-Russian-fighters6
Satellite imagery dated Oct. 3, 2015 shows extensive Russian presence in Latakia International Airport. 12 Sukhoi-25 fighters on runway.
Photo Credit: ImageSat International

Such imagery taken by the relatively low end of Israel’s satellite force represents a mere snapshot of the Jewish state’s persistent ability to monitor areas of interest throughout Syria and beyond. 

With more than a handful of satellites orbiting the Earth at 90-minute intervals, Israel has multiple opportunities every day to revisit suspected sites.

 

635811106115086651-DFN-Syria-Russian-transports
Satellite imagery dated Oct. 3, 2015 shows extensive Russian presence in Latakia International Airport.Huge Antonov 124 and Ilyushin II-76 offloading cargo.
Photo Credit: courtesy photo

Sources here note that as sharp as the imagery of Eros-B may seem, the satellite actually represents the low end of Israel’s Earth orbiting arsenal. 

Electro-optic and radar imagery taken respectively from Israel’s Ofeq family of spacecraft and TecSAR synthetic aperture radar satellites provide much higher resolution and yield a far greater amount of data for Israeli intelligence analysts, they say.

 

635811106126942727-DFN-Syria-Russian-transports2
Satellite imagery dated Oct. 3, 2015 shows extensive Russian presence in Latakia International Airport.Huge Antonov 124 with nose lifted and ramp open to offload vehicles.
Photo Credit: courtesy photo

“Eros is a commercial derivative of the much more powerful military assets that the Israel Defense Forces [IDF] and the intelligence community are using every day and every night,” said a former official of the Defense Ministry’s military space bureau.

 

635811106114462647-DFN-Syria-Russian-fighters-1
Satellite imagery dated Oct. 3, 2015 shows extensive Russian presence in Latakia International Airport. Four Sukhoi-34 advanced strike fighters on taxiway.
Photo Credit: courtesy photo

“Each satellite can revisit the same point of interest at least daily. And when you have quite a lot of satellites, it means your coverage of that area is fairly persistent. The impact of these capabilities are significant,” said the former official, who did not agree to be named due to his ongoing work as an officer in the IDF reserves.

 

635811106114618648-DFN-Syria-Russian-fighters
Satellite imagery dated Oct. 3, 2015 shows extensive Russian presence in Latakia International Airport. 12 Sukhoi-25 fighters on runway.
Photo Credit: courtesy photo

IDF officers and their Russian counterparts plan to hold their second round of so-called deconfliction talks in Moscow later next month, with an eye toward establishing a mechanism to prevent unintended consequences in the event that Russian and Israeli aircraft are flying in the same airspace.

 

635811106114774649-DFN-Syria-Russian-helicopters-copy5
Paved complex for helicopters showing four Kamov 27/8 and five mi-17 helicopters at Istamo Weapon Storage facility in Syria.
Photo Credit: courtesy photo

Email: bopollrome@defensenews.com

Twitter: @opallrome
 
 

 

Next Article