Russia upgrades Khmeimim airbase in Syria

The Russian airbase in Syria has been boosted with hangars to shelter planes from drone attacks and a centralized fuel system, the Defense Ministry said. The upgrade will also allow for additional aircraft at the strategic base.

While it can already be called a “first class airfield,” capable of accepting all types of planes, including heavy transport aircraft and strategic bombers, work is being done to expand the base’s capabilities even further, Khmeimim’s deputy air regiment commander, Konstantin Dolgov, told Russian media.

He said the reconstruction of the second landing strip is now in full swing, and the capacity of the airbase will be boosted upon its completion.

There are currently 30 aircraft stationed at Khmeimim, with the fleet consisting of Su-35S, Su-34 and Su-24 planes and Mi-35 and Mi-8AMTSh helicopters.

New hangars for those planes have now been put into service, aimed at protecting the aircraft in case of drone attacks, which frequently target the Russian base, but have failed to cause any damage thanks to its air defenses. The hangars’ other purpose is sheltering the hardware from roasting in the hot Syrian sun and prolonging the lifespan of both planes and service equipment. The shade has also improved working conditions for the mechanics, the official noted.

Another major bonus is the new centralized fuel supply system, which has allowed a sharp decrease in the time needed to prepare the planes for recycle sorties.

Russian aviation arrived in Khmeimim in 2015 after Damascus asked Moscow for assistance in fighting terrorism. The air support played a key role in helping the Syrian government turn the tide in the conflict against Islamic State (IS, ISIS/ISIL) and other extremist groups controlling ground in Syria. Now that most of the country is liberated and the militants only hold territory in northwestern Idlib province, the Russian pilots in Syria are mainly performing training sorties.