After a week of heavy operations over Syria, Russia's Air Force is scaling back its efforts so it can analyze its progress and identify new targets after the Ministry of Defense last week claimed to have helped the Syrian regime push back opposition forces. Moving into the third week of Russia's surprise aerial intervention in Syria's four-and-a-half-year-old civil war, Moscow has not only claimed early successes, but demonstrated that efforts to modernize its military are yielding real benefits and restoring lost capabilities.
The campaign is limited, with a force of about 30 Russian fixed-wing aircraft and 20 helicopters operating out of a regime-controlled airbase outside the coastal city of Latakia. The tactics being used are a hybrid of classic-Soviet air support missions and Western-style precision air strikes. A former member of Russia's General Staff, retired Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Buzhinsky, told Defense News that “the Russian Air Force has started using Western tactics just to destroy separate targets with high-precision weapons,” but overall it is flying traditional ground-support missions.