Newly Delivered Su-30 Jets Likely Used in Myanmar Concert Bombing

  • Bureau
  • 12:17 PM, November 11, 2022
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Newly Delivered Su-30 Jets Likely Used in Myanmar Concert Bombing

A pair of Russian Su-30 fighters delivered to the Myanmar junta in September 2022 were likely used in the October 23 airstrike on a concert in Kachin State’s Hpakant Township.

Recent airstrikes count among the deadliest attacks by Myanmar’s military against resistance fighters ever since it seized control in February. More than 100 people were killed in the airstrike.

Myanmar’s coup leader and de facto head of state, General Min Aung Hlaing, has paid two visits to Russia in 2022. During his most recent visit, in September, the general met with President Vladimir Putin and toured a plant producing fighter jets.

In June 2021, Min Aung Hlaing is said to have told Putin that the country’s army “has become one of the strongest in the region, thanks to Russia.”

Myanmar has reportedly deployed Russia-made two-seat Yak-130 jets and Mi-35 helicopters across the country in past few weeks.

“Some of the very types of weapons that are being used to kill people in Ukraine are being used to kill the people of Myanmar,” Tom Andrews, the U.N. special rapporteur on Myanmar, said in October. “And they come from the very same source — they come from Russia.”

Myanmar Witness, an organization documenting human rights violations in Myanmar, said six of 20 Yak-130 jets that the country’s military presently operates, was delivered to last December. Shipment of six Su-30 fighters began soon after.

The two sides struck a deal for Sukhoi Su-30 combat aircraft during Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit to Myanmar in January 2018. A few months later, then air force chief General Maung Maung Kyaw flew to Russia to test-fly a Su-30 jet in Moscow.

Newly Delivered Su-30 Jets Likely Used in Myanmar Concert Bombing
Myanmar Witness

Matt Freear, a spokesman for the organization, told The Washington Post that researchers recently verified evidence, including satellite imagery, showing that at least one of these jets is already in Myanmar. These aircraft have twice the payload and twice the “potential lethality” of the Yak-130, Freear added.

Two Su-30 fighters were delivered to Myanmar before September, The Irrawaddy has learned. A junta spokesman then told BBC Burma that the Su-30s were ready to be used.

A Su-30 was spotted on the runway of Naypyitaw airbase on October 17. Able to fly in all weather conditions, the Su-30s have a range of 3,000km, making them an ideal choice for long-distance operations. This means they can be used to drop bombs across the entire country from their base in Naypyitaw.

Former captain Zay Thu Aung, a Myanmar Air Force defector, told The Irrawaddy that a Su-30 can carry as many as four 1,110-pound bombs while the regime’s other warplanes can carry only one.

Early this year, junta pilots led by Colonel Khant Nay Lay underwent training to operate and maintain Su-30 fighters in Russia.

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