Russia deployed several of its most advanced Su-35S fighters equipped with Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radars to Syria, reported the state-run ITAR News Agency. “Starting from last week, super-maneuverable Su-35S fighter jets started performing combat missions at Khmeimim airbase,” Russia defense spokesman Igor Konashenkov said on Feb. 1. Tension between Russia and NATO ally Turkey flared after another Russian aircraft breached Turkish airspace last week, which the Alliance called on Russia to take “all necessary measures” to prevent in a statement. Russia has vastly increased air support to Syrian government forces currently besieging Aleppo, contributing to the suspension of peace negotiation in Geneva on Wednesday, Radio Free Europe reported. “Over the past week, Russian warplanes have flown 468 sorties in the Syrian Arab Republic, including 24 sorties performed from the Russian territory by Tu-22M3 long-range bombers,” stated Konashenkov. Russia has denied additional reports that it is opening a second airbase near the Turkish border in northeastern Syria, according to RFE. (See details of the Su-35S in Air Force Magazine‘s 2015 Russian Airpower Almanac in the July 2015 issue.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.