Russia and Syria have confirmed the delivery of advanced MiG-29 fighter jets in ‘two batches’ which have commenced combat duty as on June 1.
A defense industry source told defenseworld.net that the number of aircraft involved is between six to 10. While the number of aircraft was not specified nor the model, various sources put the number of aircraft sent per batch at 5. The aircraft are “advanced and modernized MiG-29,” according to Syrian news agency, SANA.
The Russian Embassy in Syria on Wednesday confirmed the delivery of MiG-29 fighter jets to the Syrian Arab republic. "The Syrian army has received the second batch of MiG-29 from Russia within the framework of defense cooperation between our nations. The Syrians have already started using those planes for missions," the embassy said in a June 3 tweet.
Syria has not been flying regular combat missions on its MiG-29s since last year leading to speculation that several of these jets may have been flown to Russia for modernization. Syria has some 19 MiG-29SMT Jets. One MiG-29 crashed in an accident at Shayrat Airbase after takeoff on March 5 this year killing its pilot.
It is notable that even during the Turkish offensive over Idlib, Syria had not deployed its MiG-29s but older Su-24 jets, two of which were shot down by Turkish F-16 fighters.
The modernized aircraft are most likely equipped with fly-by-wire flight control system, radar and optical locating stations, a helmet-mounted targeting/display system, secure communications and self-defense equipment, advanced weapons control which provide effective use of aerial weapons.
In addition, a complement of air-to-air, air-to-ground weapons and sensors has been provided to bring some sort of parity with Turkish and Israeli F-16s that regularly raid Syrian targets. The modernized MiG-29s will be able to relay information about the presence of enemy fighters to S-300 air defence systems, the source said
Earlier the US Africa Command had issued a press release stating that the MiG-29 Jets flown to Syria were ultimately destined in Support of the Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar. However there is no evidence of the jets having been flown to Libya.
Syria’s SANA news agency reported on May 30 that the MiG-29s were deployed at various air fields immediately after the handover ceremony at Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria. The received fighters are “more effective than their previous generation,” the report said.