Su-30 pilot who covered Putin’s plane in Syria: Jets were ‘heat traps’ for possible enemy missiles
“In this case, the task was to meet [the Russian President’s plane] and escort it to the landing strip,” a pilot named Yury told a Rossiya 1 correspondent at the Russian Khmeimim airbase in western Syria. “One of the tasks was to hereby cover it with ourselves, roughly saying,” he added.
According to the ace, the Su-30SM jets were a sort of “heat traps” for missiles that could’ve been fired at Putin’s plane. “The temperature of the exhaust gases of the (Su-30SM) plane is much higher” than of presidential Il-96-300PU, he said. “We were flying at maximum capacity because our planes have different speed and it was that we were protecting the presidential plane from both sides with ourselves,” the pilot added.
The footage of Putin looking at the maneuvers of the Russian military pilots from aboard his plane earlier this week has gone viral. The president thanked the airmen for their courage during his annual Q&A session on Thursday.
“The pilots, those guys, I watched them. They were not just flying nearby – during landing, they descended to be flying below our plane," Putin said. "I am thankful to them and want them to hear and know that.”
On Monday, Putin arrived in Syria without any advance notice to visit Khmeimim Airbase in Latakia province and order the withdrawal of Russian troops after the defeat of terrorists in the country.