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Russian Ministry of Defense releases data on Syria campaign

The Russian Ministry of Defense has published a video containing interesting details about the campaign in Syria. In a fashion typical of Russian journalism the video is saturated with factual data in rapid order. Fortunately the blog bpmd has put the most interesting numbers in writing, which makes it easier to digest.

The statistics are interesting for two reason. First, these are official numbers, so that gives them some credibility. And second, the numbers reflect that the Russian military has gained tremendous combat experience in Syria. Russia has consciously rotated personnel and equipment with the purpose of maximizing organizational learning.

So here are some of the data points in no particular order:

  • Since 2015 a total of 63,012 military personnel have participated in the operations in Syria. This includes no less than 434 generals and 25,738 officers.
  • Combat experience received:
    • 4,349 specialists of the missile forces and artillery
    • 87 percent of the crews of operational-tactical aviation
    • 91 percent of the crews of army aviation
    • 97 percent of the crews of transport aviation
    • 60 percent of the crews of strategic long-range aviation
  • One in four soldiers who served in Syria received a decoration for their service.
  • The Air Force completed 39,000 combat sorties of which 20,000 were during night conditions. During the most intensive phases the number of sorties reached more than 100 per day. Each plane conducted three to four sorties per day.The highest number of sorties was on 20 November 2015 when planes took off 139 times.
  • The Navy completed 189 expeditions in which 86 surface warships, 14 submarines, and 83 other vessels have participated.
  • The carrier Admiral Kuznetsov launched 420 sorties including 117 at night. 1,252 objects were destroyed as a result.
  • UAVs have done more than 25,000 flights and discovered 47,522 enemy objects. Drones of the types Forpost and Orlan-10 have done up to 70 flights every day.
  • The have been 100 attacks with maritime launched cruise missiles and 66 attacks with air launched cruise missiles.
  • Long-range bombers of the type Tu-22M3 have completed 369 sorties, engaged in attacks 47 times, and destroyed 215 objects.
  • A total of 121,466 enemy objects have been destroyed by air raids and cruise missiles. This includes 970 field camps, 20,513 logistical points, 9,941 stocks of ammunition and fuel, and 8,927 cars with anti-aircraft equipment.
  • The kill count is 830 terrorist leaders and more than 86,000 enemy fighters including 4,500 from Russia or other SNG countries.
  • Logistical support has included 424 maritime and 2,785 air transports. Maritime transports have provided 3,250 persons, 4,501 pieces of military equipment, and 1,559,000 tons of goods. Air transport has moved 91,285 persons, more than 1,000 pieces of military equipment, and 55,846 tons of goods. On average Russia has delivered 2,000 tons of different goods to Syria every day.
  • On the medical front, 10 medical units and a total of 1,220 military medics have given care to 88,318 Syrians.
  • 6,077 tons of food and provisions have been parachuted over Syria.
  • The Syrian Armed Forces have received 4,710 pieces of weapons and equipment and more than 1,100 tons of armored vehicles.
  • 231 types of equipment were tested and approved during the campaign. This includes 68 from the Air Force, 18 from the Navy, 48 from the Army, and 97 from other agencies including special forces.

Some of these numbers are necessarily less certain than others. The number of killed enemies, for example, will invariably be an estimate. These numbers strike me as surprisingly high, so it seems likely that the Russian Ministry of Defense has chosen an optimistic view. Nevertheless, the data is interesting and shows that the Russian military has considered Syria not only from a perspective of campaign objectives but also as an opportunity to gain combat experience for both personnel and equipment.

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  1. […] November 2015 and August 2018, Tu-22M3s completed 369 combat sorties over Syria, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. For these, the bombers initially operated […]

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