Russia Touts Military Power from New Fighter to Bombing Run

(Screen grab via Russian Ministry of Defence video)(Screen grab via Russian Ministry of Defence video)

This week has been a particularly visible one for the Russian military in the air and at sea.

On Monday, the government unveiled what it said was the first official footage of its stealth fifth-generation fighter, the Sukoi T-50 PAK-FA, in flight.

The twin-engine aircraft appears only in glimpses and with other military planes — including the Mikoyan MiG-29K Fulcrum-D and Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D naval fighters, the Su-35S fighter and Tupolev Tu-95 Bear strategic bomber — in a slick three-minute video produced in honor of Russian Aerospace Force Day.

On Tuesday, Russia released footage of its Tupolev Tu-22M Backfire long-range bombers and Sukoi Su-34 Fullback tactical bombers conducting what it said was an airstrike against Islamic State militants in the Deir ez-Zor province in Syria from the Hmeymim airbase in Iran.

While U.S. officials complained they received little advance notice of the bombing run, the mission was nevertheless historic, marking the first time Iran let a foreign military operate from its territory since World War II. The Backfires have since departed, but the Fullbacks remain in country. (Both Russia and Iran support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad despite the deadly five-year-old civil war in Syria.)

On Friday, the Russian military released footage of its warships Zeliony Dol and Serpukhov launching Kalibr cruise missiles from positions in the eastern Mediterranean Sea at targets affiliated with the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group in Syria.

The strikes reportedly destroyed a command center and a terrorist base near Dar-Taaza, as well as mortar manufacturing plant and large armament depot in Aleppo, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

As the video footage makes clear, Russia seems focused on using these high-profile operations as an opportunity to show off its increasingly sophisticated weaponry — and presence — to the U.S. and its allies in the region.

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Brendan McGarry
Brendan McGarry is the managing editor of Military.com. He can be reached at brendan.mcgarry@military.com. Follow him on Twitter at @Brendan_McGarry.