Vladimir Putin Flies Ilyushin Il-96 To The UAE With Su-35 Fighter Jet Escort

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Summary

  • Putin’s visit to the United Arab Emirates was escorted by four fighter jets and a fifth over Iranian airspace.
  • The fighter jets are armed with air-to-air missiles, following Russia’s standard safety procedures for presidential visits.
  • Despite infrequent trips abroad due to political reasons, Putin received a warm welcome in Abu Dhabi.


Russian President Vladimir Putin traveled from Moscow to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last week to improve relations with some Gulf nations. Putin flew on Russia’s presidential jet, an Ilyushin Il-96 that was specially escorted by four Sukhoi Su-35S fighter jets to Abu Dhabi.

The jets, all reportedly armed with air-to-air missiles, align with Russia’s standard safety procedures for presidential visits. In addition to the Su-35S jets, it is being reported that a fifth fighter jet also escorted the Il-96 over Iran.


A presidential escort

As per Interfax-Russia, Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, discussed details about the presidential trip, including the conditions during takeoff from Moscow,

“During the flight of the presidential plane before landing in Abu Dhabi, the head of state was accompanied by four Russian Aerospace Forces Su-35S fighters. The said fighters carried standard weapons of various classes. The Su-35S flight took off from an operational airfield in Russia in difficult weather conditions with heavy rain and gusty wind. The fighters were piloted by first-class pilots. For air support of the presidential aircraft, special flight permissions were obtained from the states over whose territory it was flown. We are grateful to these states for their cooperation.”

Read More: Everything You Need To Know About Vladimir Putin’s Ilyushin Il-96 Presidential Jet

Video released by Russia’s Ministry of Defense shows the inclement weather and the aircraft escort high in the sky before arriving in Abu Dhabi.

The TU214 and II-96 flights were listed as RSD707 and RSD501, respectively, on flight tracking websites. The flights were reportedly the most tracked flights on Flightradar24 on Wednesday. However, the data is no longer available.

Flying over Iranian airspace

The aircraft’s route crossed the airspaces of a few countries, including over the Capsian Sea, which required the pilots to obtain special permission for the armed escort, according to The Drive. The presidential aircraft also passed through Iranian airspace, where a fifth fighter jet was reportedly deployed to assist with the escort.

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According to The Aviationist, the “convoy” of Russian aircraft was intercepted in Iranian airspace and escorted by at least one F-14A Tomcat from the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF). The group of six aircraft were seen flying at a high altitude from the ground.

The occurrence is reportedly not the first time Iran has used the Persian Tomcats to escort Russian aircraft in its airspace. The fighter jet type, which is the last operational F-14 in the world, escorted Tupolev Tu-95 Bears operated by the Russian Air Force in 2015, according to The Aviationist. The large turboprop bombers flew through Iranian airspace during missions to and from Engels-2, a military airbase near Saratov in Russia.

A rare visit

Trips outside of Russia have been rare for Putin since Russia invaded Ukraine. One key reason for the lack of international travel is due to arrest warrants that have since been filed by the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the Russian president. The UAE has since signed the Rome Statute, which is the international agreement that supports the ICC but has yet to ratify it. Saudi Arabia, where Putin also visited, also has not ratified the agreement or even signed it.

The Russian President was greeted in the UAE with a flyover by the country’s aerobatic team and with Russian flags lined along the route that his limo took. The Russian Su-35s also escorted the Il-96 to Riyadh with Putin onboard, according to The Drive.

Sources: Flightradar24

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