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First Iranian fighter jets over Syria alongside Russian bombers

DEBKAfile Special Report

A series of videos apparently leaked by the Russian Defense Ministry reveal the presence of Iranian F-14 and MiG -29 fighters in Syrian skies for the first time. They were shown by “The Aviationist,” Italian magazine, escorting heavy Russian bombers, including the Tupolev TU-160, the heaviest, fastest and most destructive bomber ever built, on missions no more than 150 km from Israel’s northern border.

The ageing F-14s, built in the 1970s by American aviation giant Grumman, were originally sold to Iran when the Shah was in power and taken over by the reorganized Iranian air force after the 1979 Islamic revolution. Upgraded many times, the F-14s now feature state-of-the-art avionics, weapons and navigation systems, procured byTehran despite the strict UN embargo on their sale to the Islamic Republic.

Dozens of these upgraded warplanes, upgraded with intelligence-collection and tracking systems, have begun operating in Syrian air space near the Israeli border, under the pretense of escorting the Russian bombers. Iranian eyes in the sky are therefore studying the frontier area and gather valuable intelligence on Israel’s air defenses. Normally, if Iranian warplanes had turned up in Syrian air space, the Israeli Air Force would have fought them off and shot them down, but by flying alongside Russian bombers they are protecting themselves against Israeli action.

As debkafile reported on Saturday, November 21, Russian air and missile attacks are systematically destroying Raqqa, the ISIS capital in Syria, without consideration of civilian casualties. The Russian general staff is now gearing up to embark on an unprecedented assault on rebel and ISIS strongholds, a blitz involving hundreds of simultaneous sorties by warplanes and bombers, as well as cruise missile attacks from planes and warships in the Mediterranean and the Caspian Seas.

High-altitude surveillance planes as well as low-altitude drones, fitted with imaging and targeting systems that will send live video and images to the command center in Moscow, will provide an umbrella for the attack.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will personally manage the multi-layered military coordination between Russia and Iran when he visits Tehran on Nov. 23, accompanied by top military officers.

Read more: http://www.debka.com/article/25034/First-Iranian-fighter-jets-over-Syria-alongside-Russian-bombers

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