(Oct. 20, 2014) Aleppo, Syria
Terrorist fighter pilots are being trained to fly captured MIGs. That’s what Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says. He claims the militants have been flying the captured jets on “short flight” training missions at al-Jarrah military airport east of the city of Aleppo, where the group maintains a major base. “People saw the flights, they went up many times from the airport and they are flying in the skies outside the airport and coming back,” added Abdulrahman. It remains unknown if the jets have an arsenal of weaponry at their disposal.
The group has captured several major airfields for military use, including the Tabqa complex, close to ISIS headquarters in the Syrian city of Raqqa. Along with it, they’ve also taken command of the aircraft, helicopters and heavy artillery. ISIS has been bolstering its arsenal as of recent, amassing a collection of tanks and armored personnel carriers along the way.
Recent reports suggest they’ve captured as many as 3 Soviet made jets from the Syrian Air Force and are utilizing former Iraqi Air Force officers to train the pilots. This is believed to be the first time ISIS has attempted tactics like this, and raises some concern regarding attacks planned on US, British, and French allies nearby.
Witnesses who saw the planes suggest they are MiG21 or MiG23 jets. These are an older, outdated relic of a fighter jet, but don’t be fooled by the age of the aircraft. In the hands of a highly skilled pilot, an old fighter jet can be very effective and deadly. One of the United States’ staples, the F-15 [with many upgrades] still remains one of the best air-to-air fighters in the world, while remaining nearly 42 years old. The B-52 Bomber is 70 years old and it’s still on standby to haul 70,000 pounds of bombs half way around the world, destroy the target and return home.
British analysts are confident that they or allied forces would be able to intercept the inbound MIGs very easily, however. They instead, show some concern that the jets will be used in low-level suicide attacks against enemy forces. Another reason to support that theory is the lack of service technicians needed to maintain and equip aircraft, and that training [effective] military pilots takes years. Either way, it remains discouraging that ISIS is continuing to amass such a large group of attack equipment, with no clear US victory in sight.