A Russian base in Iran: a fundamental change in the balance of power
Russia has announced its military presence in Iran for the first time since the end of World War II. 16.08.2016 Tu-22M3 Russian strategic bombers made their first flight from the base Hamedan in western Iran. The aircrafts attacked targets of the terrorist group "Islamic state" in Syria. Previously, Russian strategic aviation had been performing combat missions from the base of Mozdok in North Ossetia. Now the distance to the targets in Syria has been reduced by 60%.
For the Syrian campaign, it means that Russian supersonic bombers will be able to bring a larger payload and at the same time carry out an increasing number of sorties. Accordingly, the intensity and effectiveness of the Russian air operations will increase significantly. Hmeymim airbase in Latakia (former civil airport) is not suitable for such heavy bombers.
The Middle East: total coverage
News agencies spread information that Russia and Iran have agreed on the deployment of Russian strategic bombers at the air base Hamedan on a long term basis. This information was confirmed by Iranian officials. Chairman of the Security Council of Iran Ali Shamkhani said that the Iranian side will provide its infrastructure for Russia to combat terrorism. Russian strategic bombers in Iran dramatically change the geopolitical situation in the Middle East.
The combat range of the Tu-22M3 aircraft at supersonic speed is 1850 km and the maximum range is about 3000 km. This allows them to cover the whole of the Middle East. The area is now controlled by Russian aircraft includes Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, UAE, Yemen, Iran, the waters of the Persian Gulf. Within range are US military bases, all strategic places of Wahhabi monarchies of the Persian Gulf and the terrorist infrastructure in the region. The flight time to Riyadh is less than half an hour.
The Tu-22M3 is designed to destroy large enemy military-industrial targets, centers of command and control, and communications, destroy buildings (including magazines) and units deep behind enemy lines. This aircraft can also effectively conduct aerial reconnaissance and engage in electronic warfare. The Tu22M3 is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons. The maximum carry load is 24,000 kg.
Moreover, if Russia finds it necessary in a wartime situation, in agreement with Iran, can place better weapons at the air base in Iran, for example, the strategic missile carriers Tu-160, which are armed with atomic bombs and missiles with nuclear warheads. The combat radius of this aircraft is 7500 km.
The Moscow-Tehran Axis
Iran’s willingness to provide to Russia a military base Hamedan is a unique event in recent history of the state and evidence of a close strategic alliance between the two countries. This step links Russian geopolitics with Iran's interests in the region. There is no doubt that the Russian Aerospace Forces will protect the interests and security of both Russia and Iran. Iran strengthens its immunity against major opponents - the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia, due to the Russian strategic presence.
At the same time, Russia defends itself at a distance, moving the confrontation with the United States from Russia’s own border areas, closer to the marginal part of the Eurasian Rimland, and directly adjacent to the major US and British bases in the Persian Gulf (Bahrain, Oman, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates).
Breakthrough Atlanticist blockade
For Russia, this event is crucial. A "breakthrough to the warm seas" to the Mediterranean, Iran and India; this geopolitical expansion towards the south has been a major strategic imperative of Russian geopolitics since the XVIII century and the basic meaning of "the Great Game" from the Russian side. In contrast to her Atlanticist powers, Great Britain and the United States were trying to prevent full Russian access to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Russian strategic bombers in Hamedan mean a breaking of the Atlanticist blockade in this part of the Rimland. Russia now receives immediate access to the region and the possibility of a way to operate militarily in this area, to protect both its own interests and those of its allies.