On 24 June 2021, two, long expected, Russian Federation - Aerospace Forces (RF VKS) Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-31K arrived for the first time at Khmeimim Air Base (Syria).
Both MiG-31s, serial RF-95215 with Bort Number 90 red and RF-92451 with Bort Number 96 red, came from Akhtubinsk's State Flight Test Centre, also known as 929 GLITs (929-й Государственный лётно-испытательный центр). On 16 February 2021, Scramble Magazine wrote an in-depth article about this unit.
In recent years, the MiG-31K at Akhtubinsk was thoroughly tested by carrying a Kinzhal (Dagger) Air-Launched Ballistic Missile (ALBM). Being a new strategic weapon system, the combination of a MiG-31K and the Kinzhal has now become one of Russia's deterrences.
Also, several other Russian military aircraft arrived at the Khmeimim as part of an exercise in and over the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. An Ilyushin Il-38 anti-submarine aircraft also arrived in Syria.
According to the plan of the exercise, five ships of the Russian Navy, the missile cruiser Moskva, the frigates Admiral Essen and Admiral Makarov, as well as two submarines Stary Oskol and Rostov-on-Don, together with Tupolev Tu-142MK anti-submarine aircraft, Tupolev Tu-22M3 long-range bombers and the above mentioned aircraft will perform combat training tasks to ensure the security of Khmeimim Air Base and the Tartus logistics center of the Russian Navy.
Strikingly, the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth is currently in the Mediterranean Sea. It was stated that the Russian objectives of the exercise will also to monitor the actions of the aircraft carrier.
In May 2021, the reconstruction of the second runway at Khmeimim was completed with a complete replacement of the coating and the installation of new lighting and radio equipment. Thanks to this reconstruction, including the increase of the length of the runway, Russia's Long Range Aviation (LRA) are now able to practice practical skills in performing tasks in the airspace over the Mediterranean Sea.
See also the Scramble Magazine 25 May 2021 newsitem on the arrival of Tu-22M3s at Khmeimim.
Photos via stills from Zvezda video