Satellite imagery and photographic evidence has confirmed that Sudan has received at least three Sukhoi Su-24 strike aircraft over the last few months.
According to the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), DigitalGlobal satellite imagery has confirmed the presence of at least three Su-24s at the Sudanese Wadi Seidna airbase, which were acquired in recent months. The SSP says technical checks and pilot proficiency are probably underway at the air base.
“As early as March 2013, one Su-24 bomber was parked in the engine testing apron in the operational area of Wadi Seidna, located 25 km northwest of Khartoum,” the SSP said. “To date, three Su-24 aircraft have been observed at Wadi Seidna, most recently on August 24, 2013”.
Meanwhile, photos have emerged of Su-24s in Sudanese Air Force markings. They were provided by the Secret Difa 3 blog, which claims that Sudan has received 12 Su-24s from Belarus that were supposedly intended to go to Yemen.
In the past Sudan has used An-24/26 transport aircraft as crude, inaccurate bombers. The arrival of the Su-24s gives the Air Force the ability to conduct precision strikes over long ranges.
Satellite Sentinel Project and Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast stated that, “The capabilities of this particular type of bomber in the hands of the Sudanese government is troubling. Khartoum has an extensive track record of targeting civilian areas with aerial bombing, and these new planes will allow future damage to be even deadlier. The Sudan government has flouted past UN restrictions on offensive aerial operations in Darfur, and undertaken sustained bombing campaigns in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, where there are no UN restrictions. With the deployment of these attack planes, life just got much more dangerous for civilians living in Sudan’s war zones.”
“The Satellite Sentinel Project will keep tracking these aircraft to ensure that they are not used in Darfur, in contravention of the UN Security Council’s directive,” said Enough Project Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst Akshaya Kumar.
Sudan’s Air Force has of late received a number of new aircraft from Russia and Belarus. According to the United Nations it received 15 Sukhoi Su-25 ground attack jets from Belarus in 2008 and 2009. Together with Mi-24s, these have been used in operations against suspected rebel positions in South Kordofan and Darfour.
Sudan has taken delivery of a number of Mi-24s, with 36 delivered by Russia between 2007 and 2009, according to Amnesty International. In 2011 Rosoboronexport signed a contract for the supply of 12 former Russian Air Force Mi-24s and 6 Mi-8s to Sudan. This year Sudan apparently concluded a contract for the delivery of another 12 Mi-24s and 8 or 12 Mi-8s with an option to supply six more of each, according to Russian daily Vedomosti.
Russia told the UN Register of Conventional Arms that it transferred only four attack helicopters to Sudan in 2012.
Sudan is allegedly negotiating for the supply of 18 Sukhoi Su-30K fighters stored in Belarus.