BEIRUT, LEBANON (4:45 P.M.) – Russia’s most advanced “intelligence plane” is reportedly flying over Turkey and heading towards Syria, maritime observer and photographer Yoruk Isik tweeted on Saturday.
According to Isik, the Russian Air Force’s Tu-214R aircraft flew from Moscow’s Chkalovsky Airport and will likely land at the Hmeimim Airbase in western Syria.
Eyes & Ears on the Mediterranean: Russia's most advanced 'intelligence plane', Russian Air Force Special Mission Tu214R RF64514 SIGINT / ELINT intelligence gathering platform, is flying from Moscow Chkalovsky likely to RuAFB Humaymim in #Latakia #Syria through Turkish airspace. pic.twitter.com/cWCAWnWx0U
— Yörük Işık (@YorukIsik) January 25, 2020
The aircraft was previously deployed to Syria in February 2016, when the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) was launching several military operations across the country.
According to the website Global Security, “unlike the Tu-214ON, which was created specifically for inspection missions under the Open Skies treaty and carried only photographic equipment on board, the Tu-214R possesses almost super powers for intelligence gathering.”
“The main feature of the Tu-214R’s radars is said to be ground-penetrating radar (GPR) scanning. In other words, the aircraft is daid to be able to see through the ground. Any objects hidden under the ground, covered with snow or sand, or disguised by trees, will be detected by the Tu-214R. It will take a radar snapshot and immediately transmit the information to the command post,” Global Security said about the Russian aircraft.