The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Russia Sells Six to Seven Billion Dollars of Planes After Syria

Not a bad return indeed:

What I wrote November 13th, 2015:

What is happening in Syria is a demonstration that Russia can be counted on to help its allies—meaning its customers. It is a demonstration that Russia’s new weapons, and particularly its cruise missiles and airpower, are comparable to US product, and maybe, even in the case of its most advanced fighter/bomber, better.

It is a demonstration that if you buy Russian you aren’t buying crap that US-supplied forces can roll right over any more.

Putin: If he’s not the world’s most capable leader, he’s certainly in the running. One doesn’t have to like him, or approve of him, to acknowledge this.

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  1. Another Anon

    Yes, the F-35 is having so many problems that buyers like Japan
    are looking for alternatives. See
    You can call it the “lead Sled” next generation.

  2. Peter*

    Who are the Russians selling these planes to and what planes are in the deal?

    The Syrian campaign has shown Russia’s hardware is dependable but not invulnerable to US aircraft.

  3. V. Arnold

    Ian, a great read; and coming from the western hemisphere, very unusual indeed.
    Russia’s Putin is indeed one of the paramount leaders of this century. He and Sergey Lavrov are a diplomatic tour de force, the likes of which are sorely lacking in the west, including Europe.
    People (especially Americans) tend to forget, if they ever knew, the technological and scientific firsts from the USSR and now Russia.
    The reticence of, particularly the U.S., to acknowledge Russia’s greatness is a sad state of affairs which serves us badly…

  4. V. Arnold

    Some top U.S. brass have heaped praise on Russia’s performance in Syria. Other sources have quietly expressed shock at Russia’s display of advanced, modern weapon’s; most notably the Kaliber cruise missiles.
    What is most interesting are the countries buying the Russian jets; Algeria, China, India, and Indonesia to name a few. Thailand is no longer buying U.S. F-16’s, but purchasing Sweden’s Saab Gripen fighters.
    The U.S. is falling out of favor with many foreign allies and it’s costing it dearly.

  5. hidflect

    Love him or hate him, Putin comes across as a sober, serious adult. More like someone from our father’s time than the present crop of man-child performers we see today.

  6. Tom


    Older Russian Gear sold by the Soviets in the Cold War is vulnerable. But only because they were monkey models and the Arab Dictators didn’t train their Armies properly fearing revolt.

    The Arabs were also fighting an entrenched foe in a Narrow Front that forced frontal attacks.

  7. V. Arnold

    March 29, 2016
    “More like someone from our father’s time than the present crop of man-child performers we see today.”
    Oh, you so capture today’s realities; man children; ruling a world they do not understand.
    I could go on, but you capture the essence…

  8. Peter*


    Putin’s KGB/lawyer background prepared him well for his role as the stern modern autocrat but when he parades around bare-chested and puts on martial arts public displays of machismo for local consumption he shows his own flamboyant nature.

    Some people were very enthused and overstimulated by Putin’s projecting military force into Syria, when his diplomacy failed, but the targets of that display had no direct means to resist so there was no real test of Russian war power. The ease with which the Turks shot down the Russian jet bomber showed there was something weak in their equipment, ECMs, or procedures.

    The Islamic state did manage to respond lethally indirectly and effectively in Sinai.

  9. S Brennan

    Peter, all ground attack & bombers are vulnerable to fighter/interceptor aircraft, please troll on.

  10. marku52

    Peter, the US had to supply turkey the Russian flight information from the deconfliction data they shared with the US for Turkey to intercept the Russian AC. And after that, that area became a nofly zone for Turkey, and they lost a substantial Russian tourism business.

    Stupid, really.

  11. marku52

    The other smart thing the Russians did was to rotate units through during the ongoing effort. They got many of their guys trained in usage of their latest weapons.

    As well as testing those weapons (and tactics) in the real world, which is invaluable.

  12. Hairhead

    Putin has always been *competent* thuggish, amoral scumbag.

  13. different clue


    Putin may be an Amoral scumbag, but at least he is not an IMMoral scumbag. Putin was supporting the forces of Good in Syria whereas the DC FedRegime and its partners in the Global Axis of Jihad were supporting the forces of Evil.

    I am glad that the forces of Good have the more *competent* support. Let us pray that every last jihadi is found and physically exterminated in detail by the time Syrian war is over. Especially let us pray that not one single foreign jihadi survives to return to its country of origin.
    It is deeply regrettable that so many foreign jihadis have been able to survive to return to Europe already. Pray not one more lives to return.

  14. Peter*


    I would imagine the Turkish jets had to ‘see’ the Russian bomber before they could lock and fire at it and I also doubt that the Turks thought they could down the Russian jet because of their advanced counter-measures and avoidance systems. Erdogan’s immediate and frantic plea to NATO seems to point to that probability but the multiple Russian incursions into Turkish airspace had to be contested.

    I don’t think the Turks were violating Syrian airspace at this time, correct me if I’m wrong, so the Russian no fly zone over northern Syria was meaningless and the Turks are probably still patrolling their own frontier although they may have backed off some to reduce their risks.

  15. tony

    I’m pretty sure Peter is not even trolling. Americans seem to often believe that military equipment must be invisible, or it’s useless. Look at F-35 design process and advertisement. Or the way their military calls airstikes on everything.

    Also, I have seen Americans arguing that Putin did not win in Syria, because you can’t walk everywhere in Syria without seeing anyone that opposes Russia. The cognitive distortions common to Americans seem to require killing anyone that opposes you without ever taking any losses. So A-10 is no good because it can’t outfight air-to-air specialists. The only acceptable military objective is the total destruction of the enemy.

  16. Lisa

    Best analysis:

    “I’d say the evidence looks pretty strong that the Turks were setting up an ambush. They certainly weren’t doing anything that would point to a routine air patrol along the border. Their actions in no way represented a routine, all day long type of patrol.”

    “The Turks had launched two F-16s quite a bit earlier than the time we’re talking about, from Diyarbakir, a major base for the Turkish Air Force about two hundred and fifty miles away, to loiter just in from the Mediterranean over a mountainous area that was about twenty-five miles north of this border crossing. Interestingly, they arrived in that area to loiter just about the time that the Russian pilots were being assigned their targets, and the F-16s loitered over that mountainous area for about an hour and fifteen minutes.”

    “They’re hanging out at low altitude over this mountainous area north of the border, and it’s now about 10:15. The Russian fighters, the Su-24s, are just finishing their racetrack pattern after their first strike and are about to re-attack from this holding position well east of the target. At that point, the two F-16s break out of their loiter patterns to fly in a straight line south, quite certainly under Turkish ground control because they clearly are not hunting for the Su-24s and following a curved path, they’re heading straight for an intercept point that apparently ground control has provided them—”

    “The F-16s arrive quite nicely and precisely timed to a missile-shooting position very near the border and three to four miles from the second Su-24—who has just finished bombing his second target—at about 10:24. One of the F-16s locks onto him, launches a missile—an infrared missile according to the Russians—and immediately dives down to get back under the Syrian radar coverage. ”

    “The seventeen-second crossing of the border alleged by the Turks happened at about 10:15, but the Turks waited. They didn’t come in and attack the airplane that had crossed the border at that point. They simply sat and waited until the plane flew a long re-attack pattern and came back on a second run seven or eight minutes later, and that’s when they attacked and shot him down.”

    “Between the fuel-guzzling low altitude of the holding pattern of the F-16s, which miraculously coincided with the flight times of the Russian airplanes, and the fact that they didn’t even chase the airplane immediately upon its alleged border incursion, all that smells very much like a pretty pre-planned operation. ”

    “Such an ambush wouldn’t have been hard to pull off, because the Russians, in their detailed account of this, state very clearly that they had coordinated with NATO, with the Americans, announcing this attack well in advance, and had followed the protocol of listening on the NATO-agreed frequency for any warnings or alerts from NATO or from the Turks. There was plenty of time for the Americans to inform the Turks that this mission was taking place. They might’ve even been informed by the Russians the day before it was going to take place. All the prerequisites for a setup were there.”

    “I do believe that the F-16s never issued any warnings, because it would be astonishing if they did. Here they went to all the trouble of tanking up and flying at a very low altitude, stretching their fuel endurance just to stay out of radar coverage of the Russians and the Syrians,”

    “The longest range version of the S-400 is good for two hundred and fifty miles. The Russians are installing it at their base just south of Latakia, within fifty miles of the border. So conceivably they could shoot two hundred miles into Turkey. They may or may not be able to prevent a hidden Turkish fighter from firing at another Russian attack in the border area, but they certainly have the possibility of catching him or his friends on the way home. This is a real sword poised over the heads of the Turks now that the Russians have the capability to shoot deep into Turkey and can do so any time they want.”

  17. VietnamVet

    The Ukraine and Syrian campaigns have been a total disaster for the West. It is just not reported in the press. The difference is that Russia knows that it threatened. It is in its national interest to have a functional military for self-defense. The West is drowning in hubris, war mongering and corruption. The reliable Atlas V uses Russian rocket engines. Another SNAFU to push the godfather of moderate Jihadis; Senator John McCain, over the edge. To the rescue, the oligarchs; Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, America’s hot money rocket builders.

  18. Peter*

    It’s good to see someone else understands that Putin/Russia have gained the most from the Ukraine coup and it makes me wonder if he/they weren’t manipulating or at least giving a push to the demonstrations to precipitate the coup. They seem to have had well thought out planning for the annexing of Crimea and the frozen conflict in the Donbass has ended any possibility of Ukraine joining NATO although I don’t think that conflict was anticipated. Russia now has no responsibility for the economic black hole in Ukraine that they were tied to before and I doubt they worry about Ukraine stealing their gas any more.

    It’s probably too early to determine winners and losers in Syria, except for the Syrian people’s losses, and Putin’s propping up a sectarian dictator to protect their naval base may have short term benefits but in the long run this strategy has always been a disaster, especially for the locals.

  19. markfromireland

    @Ian not a bad return and not even remotely surprising. “Battle tested” = higher sales.

    Do you remember the sinking of HMS Sheffield in 1982 by an Argentinian Exocet missile during the Falklands war?

    Aérospatiale (they’re now part of MBDA) mounted a sales campaign consisting of a video of the missile hitting followed by two words “Battle Tested”.

    Sales went through the roof.

  20. S Brennan

    More fact free troll material from our wannabe “disinformation specialist”

  21. V. Arnold

    With all of the information freely available; I’m left no other choice than to conclude Peter* is indeed a troll. A troll intentionally disseminating false information; to whit:
    “… and it makes me wonder if he/they weren’t manipulating or at least giving a push to the demonstrations to precipitate the coup. They seem to have had well thought out planning for the annexing of Crimea and the frozen conflict in the Donbass…”
    It is a well known fact Victoria Nuland engineered the Maidan “coup”. It would be impossible for Peter* not to have known this.
    Further; it also a well known fact that, via a treaty with Ukraine, Russia had 25,000 troops stationed in Crimea at their naval base.
    Russia annexed Crimea after the citizens of Crimea passed a referendum requesting annexation.
    Any additional proof would be a further waste of my time.

  22. compound f

    per usual, you’re iconoclastically correct. Jeebus, you’d think someone might eventually catch on. But no, they don’t.

  23. Lisa

    Look the old USSR was just as useless and corrupt as the current US military procurement systen is now.

    With the collapse of the USSR they companies HAD to get real and deliver what customers wanted. So they took great basic designs and improved them incrementally…you know, like they did with the Spitfire.
    Like the US could have done with the F-16 or the F-15…

    The results…a Su-35 that will run rings around anything else in the air…including a F-22 (which will be on the ground being serviced). And at a fraction of the cost. We can add all the other military equipment too…

    One thing the Russian Govt has been good at is maintaining military spending disciplne…their ‘stealth fighter…mothballed because over budget. Because training spending was far more important to them.

    The result, a much better military. Focussed on what mtters on the ground rather than ‘blue sky’ X-box nonsense.

  24. Peter*


    I know you possess proof about what happened in Ukraine, one phone conversation supplied by the FSB, while I’m just speculating/trolling based on the outcome. How can anyone doubt that a twit such as Vicki Nuland was the mastermind and puppet master pulling the strings in Ukraine, she said so and you must believe her just as some people still believe Brzezinski brought down the USSR because he says so.

    This meme leaves Putin and the FSB looking like fools who were totally clueless and impotent while this master plan was instigated.

  25. Peter*


    The Crimea story is interesting because we don’t know who exactly the Little Green Men were or where they came from, directly from Russia or the bases in Crimea but we do know it wasn’t legal for them to leave those bases. I doubt there were many Russian annexation votes cast by the Crimean Tartars there are few of them left in Crimea thanks to Stalin, at one time they made up half of the population.

    The Crimean annexation bill passed the Russian congress in one day but even though the Russians in the People’s Republics voted overwhelmingly to also seek annexation their bill was introduced and immediately shelved never to even see a vote. I don’t think Putin much likes the idea of People’s Republics in or near Russia.

  26. S Brennan

    More fact free troll material from our wannabe “disinformation specialist”

  27. Peter*


    Many people in the SoS , such as yourself, have trouble digesting somewhat complex world events and must revert to simple and trite responses to heretical analysis but the fact that you continue to respond shows you may be beginning to use your head for something other than a hat rack.

    I initially accepted the memes you still support about what happened in Ukraine but as I followed Putin’s actions and the results of the coup other probabilities became possible and more likely.

  28. S Brennan

    Peter*, you are a fact free troll posting disinformation [lies really] with the intent of destroying the credibility of the comment section of this blog.

  29. Peter*


    I suppose I should lighten up on you seeing your pathetic limitations and whining appeal to the credibility of this blog but you are such an easy mark its difficult to resist the temptation.

    When you can produce something other than limp links and loose logic I may start to think that something other than static is occurring in your hat rack.

  30. DMC


    Its not that we support Putin’s actions in the Ukraine, its merely that some of us are saying we can understand his actions as reasonable given the provocation of the coup. The degree of culpability of Ms. Nuland for the coup is certainly open for debate though I doubt we’ll ever get much more than “well…probably.” unless there’s a paper trail somewhere that I haven’t been made aware of(entirely possible) .

  31. Peter*


    I’m not questioning whether Putin’s actions were reasonable, given the geostrategic importance of Crimea to Russia, but other people might think that annexing a large territory from another nation might be unreasonable.

    What I do question is that Russia was the helpless victim in this dismantling of Ukraine or that they didn’t have good reasons and the means to be involved in the intrigues that led to the coup even if it appears to have been a US instigated plot, which it certainly was. Putin was certainly prepared for the aftermath of the coup and moved quickly to pluck the ripe plump, Crimea apparently knowing that the US and NATO would and could not respond in any meaningful way.

    Vicki Nuland and her ilk will take credit for the coup and may even continue to believe they are the victors but the results of this drama paint a different picture with Russia reaping the big rewards and jettisoning most of the responsibilities/liabilities for the failed rump state of Ukraine.

  32. rkka

    Guys, give poor Petey a break, he’s just upset that snarling Banderastanis have been prevented from giving Sevastopol the “Odessa” treatment.

  33. markfromireland

    Shorter Peter: “indispensible nation” now coupled with a doozy of a conspiracy theory. I agree that the Russian government was prepared for what happened in the Ukraine it’s not even remotely surprising and no conspiracy theory is needed. The Russian government routinely wargames various scenarios in their “near abroad” and plans accordingly.

  34. Peter*


    I don’t think it is necessarily a conspiracy theory to think Putin/Russia would, could or should have been involved in manipulating events in Ukraine before the coup, not just preparing for the fallout after the collapse. I do speculate that they may have seen opportunities, such as snatching Crimea from the West, that would have been impossible without a coup and the takeover of Ukraine by right wing anti-Russian extremists, who did not materialize suddenly because of US or European interference in Ukraine.

    The fact that the snipers, who sparked the transition from demonstrations to revolt and coup, have not been identified leads to more speculation with some people claiming they could have been sent by the US and if that is possible they also could have been sent by Russia to push events to their final outcome.

  35. different clue

    When was Crimea part of the West? Any exact time period describable and pointable-to?

  36. Peter*

    Ukraine was seeking economic integration with the EU/West before the coup and a better description about Crimea was that Russia annexed them before this integration was finalized, hence Russia took Crimea from the West.

  37. karenjj2

    Thank you, Lisa! Well worth watching. these days, that’s a “T” as in trillion.

    And here’s an example of how the “Bradley players” are still running the pentagon

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