TechPutin's armed escort: How the Russian President travels the world with Su-35S

Putin's armed escort: How the Russian President travels the world with Su‑35S

The Russian president's airplane is escorted by Su-35S fighters.
The Russian president's airplane is escorted by Su-35S fighters.
Images source: ©
7:43 AM EST, December 9, 2023

Vladimir Putin's foreign trips have been significantly limited due to an international arrest warrant. However, there are still countries where the Russian leader can visit without the threat of arrest. Regardless, he often travels the skies under the protection of an armed escort of Su-35S aircraft. But what do we know about these aircraft?

Putin's latest trip was to the Middle East, where he visited the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. He traveled to these countries on the Il-96PU aircraft—referred to as the "flying Kremlin" due to its extensive communication systems.

During the journey, Putin's path was securely guarded in the air by Russian Su-35S military aircraft. As Defence 24 reported, citing a Kremlin spokesperson, these escorting aircraft were flown by "the best pilots" and were armed with "standard weapons of various types." But what specifics do we know about this equipment?

About the Russian Su-35S Aircraft

The Su-35S is the latest version of the Su-27 fighter. In comparison to its predecessor, this new Russian aircraft boasts an elongated fuselage and an expanded wingspan.

Changes have been made to the aircraft's tail and air intakes, strengthening its overall structure. The manufacturer claims these modifications guarantee 30 years of trouble-free operation for the aircraft.

One of its distinguishable features is the redesigned engine nozzles, which allow for independent thrust vectoring. This contributes to the aircraft's high maneuverability. Additionally, the Su-35S has 12 hardpoints, enabling it to carry up to 17,645 pounds of weapons.

Putin's aerial escort

During Putin's foreign trip, his aircraft was escorted by four Su-35S aircraft. Video footage shows that these aircraft came equipped with Russian air-to-air missiles R-77 and R-73, specifically medium and short-range weaponry.

Experts suggest that the Su-35S aircraft's mission is not only to defend Putin's presidential aircraft, but also to intercept any potential anti-aircraft missiles directed towards it in the event of a threat.

It's noteworthy that aside from escorting Putin, the presence of these Russian fighters in the Middle East might be seen as a promotional ploy to attract foreign markets. Since it attacked Ukraine, the Russian arms industry has been gradually losing its global market share, and aircraft such as the Su-35S are failing to captivate foreign users' interest.

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