Moscow and Tehran signed a military agreement allowing Russian aircraft to station at Hamadan Airport in western Iran. Strategic long-range Tu-22M3 bombers have already delivered airstrikes in Syria against Islamic State from the airfield.
The number of military aircraft to be deployed at Hamadan Airbase has not been disclosed.
First photos published by Al-Masdar expose at least three Tu-22M3 bombers and Il-76 military transport jet in Iran.
Russian long-range bombers delivered airstrikes in Syria from a base in Mozdok, Russia, and had to cover a distance of about 2,000km to get to Syrian airspace. Now that distance is reduced to some 700km, so time-sensitive airstrikes can be delivered immediately and more cheaply.
As for Khmeimim Airbase in Syria’s Latakia province, used by Russian task force since September 2015 to deliver airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) – its airstrip is not suitable for the heavy Tu-22M3. But that is subject to change, as Damascus granted Moscow permission to station a permanent military airbase at Khmeimim, and the Russian Air Force is preparing to thoroughly refurbish and modernize the airfield, so it will be able to accommodate all types of military aircraft in the near future.
Military cooperation between Iran and Russia is developing rapidly.
In January this year, Moscow and Tehran signed military cooperation deal that implies wider collaboration in personnel training and counter-terrorism activities. Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and his Iranian counterpart Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan signed the document during a visit by Russia’s top brass to the Iranian capital.
On Monday, Russian media reported that Moscow has once again requested Iran and Iraq to allow cruise missiles to fly through their respective airspace to deliver strikes on terrorist targets in Syria.
Also on Monday, Russia launched tactical naval drills in the Mediterranean and Caspian Seas. The warships taking part in the exercise are to engage in live artillery and missile fire “under simulated battlefield conditions.” The Mediterranean force includes two fast attack guided missile craft, both armed with Kalibr-NK cruise missile complexes equipped with eight missiles each.
Simultaneously, a group of four attack guided missile craft (each armed with 8 Kalibr-NK cruise missiles) has been deployed in the southwestern part of the Caspian Sea, also to perform live artillery and missile strikes.
On October 7, 2015, four Russian Navy warships in the Caspian Sea fired a total of 26 missiles at positions in Syria held by IS, Shoigu announced. The missiles traveled some 1,500km, changing route several times, and eliminating 11 targets.
On November 20, warships of Russia’s Caspian Fleet launched 18 cruise missiles at seven targets in the Syrian provinces of Raqqa, Idlib and Aleppo. All of the targets were said to have been successfully hit.