The Heart of the Russian Air Force: The Syrian Fighter Jet Downed by Israel in the Golan Heights

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Two Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft flying near USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, July 2016.
Two Russian Sukhoi Su-24 attack aircraft flying near USS Donald Cook in the Baltic Sea, July 2016.Credit: AP

The Syrian aircraft the Israel Defense Forces shot down over the Golan Heights on Tuesday is a Russian-made Sukhoi, either model 24 or 22, according to the IDF.

Sukhoi has been manufacturing planes since 1939 and is the most important supplier to the Russian air force and many other militaries to which Russia sells or supplies arms.

The Sukhoi Su-24, which is known throughout the world by its NATO reporting name Fencer, was first introduced into the Soviet Air Forces in 1975. This is one of the oldest Sukhoi models still in operational use; it is also used by the armies of Azerbaijan, Algeria, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Libya, Ukraine and Syria.

The Sukhoi Su-24 is equipped with air-to-surface missiles with a range of 5 kilometers (3 miles) and air-to-air missiles with a range of 3 kilometers. The plane also has three rapid-fire cannons and various bombs. Its maximum speed is 1,550 kilometers an hour and it has a flight range of 3,000 kilometers.

>> Israel defends itself by downing Syrian fighter jet – but won't interrupt Assad's return to the border | Analysis

Sukhoi Su-24

The Sukhoi Su-22, an older model, first entered service in 1971, in Syria among other places. Its NATO reporting name is Fitter.

Syria used the plane against Israel during the Yom Kippur War and several Su-22s were downed by IDF forces.

The newest Sukhoi model, expected to be deployed this year, is the Sukhoi Su-57. Two Su-57s were spotted landing at the Russian Khmeimim Air Base in Syria in February. This stealth jet is used to infiltrate enemy territory and attack ground targets in any weather, day or night. The aircraft carries a pilot and a navigator.

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