Hobby Master HA5702 Russian Sukhoi Su-35S "Super Flanker" Multirole Fighter - "Red 6", 23rd Fighter Aviation Regiment, 303rd Guards Composite Air Division, 11th Air and Air Defence Forces Army, Khmeimim Air Base, Latakia, Syria, 2016 (1:72 Scale)
"As we see the very capable air defense [systems] beginning to show up in Syria, we're a little worried about another A2/AD [anti-access/area denial] bubble being created in the eastern Mediterranean."
- General Philip Breedlove, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, commenting on the Russian Khmeimim Air Base
The Sukhoi Su-35 (NATO reporting name: Flanker-E) Also known as Super Flanker, is a designation for two separate, heavily upgraded derivatives of the Su-27 'Flanker'. They are single-seat, twin-engine, supermaneuverable multirole fighters, designed by Sukhoi and built by Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO).
The first variant was designed during the 1980s, when Sukhoi was seeking to upgrade its high-performance Su-27, and was initially known as the Su-27M. Later re-designated Su-35, this derivative incorporated aerodynamic refinements to increase maneuverability, enhanced avionics, longer range, and more powerful engines. The first Su-35 prototype, converted from a Su-27, made its maiden flight in June 1988. More than a dozen of these were built, some of which were used by the Russian Knights aerobatic demonstration team. The first Su-35 design was later modified into the Su-37, which possessed thrust vectoring engines and was used as a technology demonstrator. A sole Su-35UB two-seat trainer was built in the late 1990s that strongly resembled the Su-30MK family.
In 2003, Sukhoi embarked on a second modernization of the Su-27 to produce what the company calls a 4++ generation fighter that would bridge the gap between legacy fighters and the upcoming fifth generation Sukhoi PAK FA. This derivative, while omitting the canards and air brake, incorporates a reinforced airframe, improved avionics and radar, thrust-vectoring engines, and a reduced frontal radar signature. In 2008 the revamped variant, erroneously named the Su-35BM in the media, began its flight test program that would involve four prototypes, one of which was lost in 2009.
The Russian Air Force has ordered 48 production units, designated Su-35S, of the newly revamped Su-35. Both Su-35 models marketed to many countries, including Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, and South Korea, but so far have not attracted any export orders. Sukhoi originally projected that it would export more than 160 units of the second modernized Su-35 worldwide.
Pictured here is a 1:72 scale replica of a Russian Sukhoi Su-35S "Super Flanker" multirole aircraft that was formerly attached to the 23rd Fighter Aviation Regiment, 303rd Guards Composite Air Division, 11th Air and Air Defence Forces Army, before being deployed to Khmeimim Air Base, near Latakia, Syria, during 2016.
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Historical Account: "Assisting Assad" - Khmeimim air base was built in mid-2015 adjacent to the Bassel Al-Assad International Airport to serve as "the strategic center of Russia's military operation against Islamic State". The existence of the Russian strategic base was revealed by the United States in early September and American officials expressed concern over the possibility of escalation of the conflict in Syria. The airbase became operational on September 30th, 2015.
During September 2015, the air base came under rocket attack by local Syrian rebels apparently using Grad missiles.
At the end of September 2015, NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, General Philip Breedlove, said that the kind of military infrastructure that Russia had installed in Syria, which included anti-aircraft defense systems, was a de facto no-fly zone: "As we see the very capable air defense (systems) beginning to show up in Syria, we're a little worried about another A2-AD (anti-access/area denial) bubble being created in the eastern Mediterranean." (Russia's third denial zone around Europe)
The Su-24 shoot-down by Turkish fighters on November 24th, 2015, was reported to be when the Russian jet was on its way to return to Khmeimim.
The military Tu-154 that crashed with loss of 92 lives on December 25th, 2016, was on a flight from Sochi to Khmeimim.