Washington — The Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, has released new analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery from March, June and August 2013 which documents evidence that the government of Sudan has acquired at least three precision bomber aircraft.
The imagery confirms the aircraft's movement within the operational area of Wadi Seidna, a Sudanese military air base, and indicates that technical checks and pilot proficiency training are probably underway.
Previous Sudanese aerial military capabilities were limited to rolling "bombs" out of transport planes. Now, these supersonic precision bombers, Su-24 "Fencers," allow for an operational range of 600 kilometers and targeted air strikes in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states. The bomber's external fuel pods contribute to extended range and loiter time resulting in increased targeting capability.
Satellite Sentinel Project and Enough Project Co-Founder John Prendergast states: "Satellite imagery is usually able to document grave human rights abuses that have already happened. This imagery, however, provides a warning to the international community of a new addition to Sudan's aerial arsenal, which could pose a grave threat to human security.
"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."
Enough Project Sudan and South Sudan Policy Analyst Akshaya Kumar states: "With each new bomber, the Sudanese government is increasing its capacity to attack its own people and perpetrate an indiscriminate war against ethnic minorities. 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."
The Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, a partnership between the Enough Project and DigitalGlobe, conducts monitoring of the border between Sudan and South Sudan to assess the human security situation, identify potential threats to civilians, and detect, deter and document war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Enough Project provides field research, policy context, and communications strategy. DigitalGlobe provides imagery from its constellation of satellites and geospatial analysis from the DigitalGlobe Analysis Center. SSP is funded primarily by Not On Our Watch.