The Russian Naval task force has seemingly been deployed in the eastern Mediterranean.
F-35B stealth fighter jets of the U.K. Royal Navy aircraft operator HMS Queen Elizabeth, carrying out combat action in the area, have been shadowed against ISIS targets.
The new Russian manoeuvres occur as the tension between Moscow and Britain, following last week a Royal Navy destroyer passed in waters near occupied Crimea and today's major US-led Black Sea operations.
It showed that at least one of the three TU-22M3 Backfire-C bombers and the 2 Foxhound MiG-31K jet fighters with the hypersonic Kinzhal missiles deployed last week on the Khmeimim Air Base in the province of Syriza's coastline of Latakia were now conducting joint maneuvers with Su-35S Fighters in Flanker.
The latter type is considered as an escort that transports different air-to-air missiles and operates from one base.
The su-35s and su-34s were routinely viewed in the Syrian airbase, in contrast to the Tu-22M3, the MIG-31K.
These tasks also included an early warning and control aircraft A-50 from Mainstay.
A familiar presence in Syria, this aircraft may coordinate the drill and keep track of other air and maritime movements like CSG21 and its F-35Bs.
The Admiral Makarov, who participated in current drills, is one of two Admiral Grigorovich's frigates, the other being Essen. It can be seen that crew rushing to combat stops and nearby AK-630 multi-barrel weapons as well as directives delivered from the bridge, albeit there is no live feeding.
One of the same weapons was deployed last week in the Black Sea to fire a 'warning shot' towards HMS Defender.
The other 3 Russian Navy combat ships partaking in the exercises are the Moscow guided-missile cruiser Slava class, the Stari Oskol and Rostov-on-Don improved-kilo class submarines.
Two further Russian assets that are reported as participating in the maneuvers, the long-range anti-submarine aircraft Il-38 May and Bear-F Tu-142MK have not been sighted so far.
The official statement by the Russian Defense Ministry reiterates that the present exercises focus on defending friendly ships from air assaults. Also discussed is the carrying of hypersonic missiles (Kinzhal), however, if these have been employed for replicating hostile surface attacks it is not evident.
This would match with tales of simulated enemy aircraft launching a mock strike on a frigate fitted with antifreeze missiles last week. In addition, surface fighting forces are increasingly concerned for the navy throughout the planet in defence against hypersonic speed targets, which normally mean more than five times the sound speed.
In the same way, the safety of the Khmeimim Air Base, as well as the supply base of the Russian Navy in Tartus Port Syria, would be ensured.
Whilst the Tu-22M3 has been deployed to Syria for the second time, the emphasis on the maritime strike mission of the type is remarkable, particularly since for the first time in the Mediterranean it coincides with the high profiled appearance of HMS Queen Elizabeth as the first operating cruise within Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21). Before this, the MiG-31K and its Kinzhal missile were not deployed outside the Russian territory, and the anti-shipping role is quite probably there as well.
While the missiles Kh-22/32 or Kinzhal are dual roles, so that they can be configured to attack targets on land or at sea, the ongoing use of Kh-22/31 aircraft is stressing marine missions and providing both a means of protecting Russian Navy ships as well as of providing potential for offensive actions against enemy navigation. All these missiles can also be equipped with nuclear warheads.
To now there does not seem to be a similar picture published by the Royal Navy or the U.S. Marine Corps, which shows their perspective on the Russian maneuvers.