14:27 Oct. 11, 2016
Lukashenko managed to quell Russian plans for an airbase on the territory
The Russian Air Force appears to have recalled their Su-27SM from Belarus, Bellingcat group concluded after having reviewed satellite imagery of the 61st Fighter Airbase in Baranovichi.
Russia had four Su-27SM Flanker parked in revetments on the Quick Reaction Alert apron since December 2013. The multi-role fighters originally deployed as part of an advanced element that would eventually form a full forward deployed squadron.
Space snapshots acquired between May and September have not shown the return of the aircraft to the apron. A review of other active and reserve airfields also indicate they were not redeployed within the country.
Although no official reporting has mentioned the relocation, their absence may be a further sign that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko managed to quell Russian plans for an airbase on the territory.
Further yet, Belarus may have even found a way to get new equipment to support the declining air defence arm. Earlier in February, the country signed a deal with Irkut to procure new Su-30SM fighters, despite lacking funds for the purchase. Details regarding their potential sale were not made public.
The SU-30SM are expected to replace Belarus' ageing MIG-29 of which 10 were recently refurbished by the 558th Aircraft Repair Plant.