Russia's aerial campaign in Syria is being used to test weapon systems that have not previously been employed under combat conditions – including the Raduga Kh-101 air-launched cruise missile.
In Russian air force service since 2013, the new air-to-surface weapon is 7.45m (24.4ft) long and has a launch weight of 2,300kg (5,060lb), including a 400kg warhead. Its range is estimated as being in excess of 1,080nm (2,000km).
Moscow on 17 November stepped up the intensity of its activity in Syria, for the first time employing Tupolev Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers.
Israeli sources confirmed on 18 November that the strike aircraft have deployed weapons not known to have been used in combat before, including the Kh-101. Recent images taken at Moscow's Ramenskoye air base show a Tu-95 carrying eight of the weapons on external stores pylons.
The increased Russian activity against Islamic State militants follows Moscow's determination that a MetroJet-operated Airbus A321 which crashed in Egypt's Sinai province on 31 October, killing 224 passengers and crew, was brought down by a bomb.