These include the Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) strategic bombers, the Sukhoi Su-34 (Fullback) fighter-bombers, the Sukhoi Su-30SM multirole fighters and the Kh-101 cruise missiles.
The Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack)
No combination is as deadly as the Tupolev Tu-160 (Blackjack) strategic bomber outfitted with the stealthy airborne Kh-101 cruise missiles. Although the White Swan entered service in late 1980s, the plane was sent into combat for the first time in mid-November.
The Tu-160 is a potent piece of military hardware in itself but the warplane is already undergoing a major upgrade, which will see 60 percent of its equipment replaced with top-end gear, including hypersonic missiles, improved avionics and electronics.
"The current volume of work at [the Kazan Aircraft Production Association] involves a lot more than repainting and technical maintenance. The only thing that will be left is essentially the fuselage. Everything else, including aircraft systems, electronics, navigation and target acquisition systems, etc. will be installed anew," Sergei Agishev, an expert on avionics and optical equipment, told the Zvezda TV channel.
The Tu-160's strategic advantage comes from using cruise missiles which allow the aircraft to remain far from the actual battle field.
"Covering up to 3,000 kilometers (over 1860 miles) is simply not an issue for Russian cruise missiles," expert on avionics and ammunition Vyacheslav Khaziev said, citing the Kalibr-class missiles launched by the Caspian fleet in early October as an example. All 26 missiles hit intended targets located over 900 miles away in Syria.
High-precision weapons, navigation systems, digital maps and other equipment help the Su-34 to destroy strongholds, convoys, command centers, other ground facilities, etc. The Su-34 is said to have never missed a target in Syria since Russia launched its counterterrorism operation on September 30.
The aircraft, costing nearly $40 million apiece, is fully capable of standing up for itself, since it was designed to operate in highly insecure environments. It is equipped with onboard defense systems that could well turn an incoming enemy missile around or destroy the projectile at a safe distance, Zvezda reported.
Nevertheless, following the Su-24 incident, the Su-34s are expected to be accompanied by the Sukhoi Su-30SM multirole fighters. The latter is the best armed aircraft Russia has to offer. There is hardly another plane which is capable of carrying so many short- and medium-range missiles.
On November 24, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Su-24 bomber involved in Russia's counterterrorism operation in Syria.
Ankara claimed that the aircraft had violated its airspace, although it was shot down over Syrian territory. Russian officials and the Su-24 pilot, who survived the crash, insisted that the plane did not cross into Turkey. Moreover, the crew, according to the pilot, did not receive any warning prior to the attack.