Having deployed the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system in Syria in response to the ‘accidental’ shooting of the Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, has the Kremlin managed to create jitters in the best airforce of the Middle East -Israel?
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In 2013, Russia already wanted to arm the Syrian Arab army with these systems. The contract was prepared from 2010, it was about the supply of four batteries. It was reported that Damascus even transferred the advance payment, but the contract was terminated unilaterally, and the money was refunded to Syria.
The Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recalled the previous contract: “I emphasize that in 2013, at the request of the Israeli side, we suspended the supply to Syria of the S-300 complex, which was prepared for dispatch, and the Syrian military personnel were trained. And it was not our fault. “
What is the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system?
Sergei Shoigu did not say how many and what units of this complex will be transferred to Syria. Perhaps, Russia will give the regimental kit of the SAM (surface-to-air-missile), which will include a regimental command post, as well as two or three divisions. In each division, there are four launchers.
What kind of modification will be delivered to Syria, it is difficult to say, but Russia supplied the S-300PMU1 to Iran? According to Sergei Shoigu, the complex, which will be transferred to Syria, “is capable of intercepting air attack means at ranges of more than 250 km and simultaneously hitting several air targets.”
The S-300 complex was created, first of all, for the defence of large strategic facilities. This is not an element of “zonal” air defence, and it differs from the older complex S-200VE, designed to defend territories, not objects.
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There are three “families” of the S-300 – the military mobile complex, the air defence system of strategic facilities and the sea-based air defence system. The first S-300 battalions were deployed in 1979. The latest version of the S-300PM-2 air defence system appeared in the late 1990s, the last SAM system – S-300V4 – several years ago. The S-300 is able to fight not only with aircraft but also with operational and tactical ballistic missiles of small and medium range.
This S-300 complex has never been used in real combat conditions, and therefore all judgments about its effectiveness are based on the system’s tests in the course of exercises and assessments of its claimed tactical and technical characteristics.
Can the S-300 cover the sky above Syria?
No. Providing an air defense system for a large territory requires much greater effort, and in any case, two or three divisions will not suffice for the defense of the state. Mikhail Khodarenok, an air defense expert said that the air defense system includes not only anti-aircraft missile systems, but also an automated control system, an electronic warfare system, and aviation Air Defense.
Meanwhile, Sergei Shoigu promised in his speech that “the command posts of the Syrian formations and air defence units will be equipped with automated control systems that are supplied only to the Russian Armed Forces,” which will ensure “the control of all air defense forces and assets in Syria, conditions and provision of target designation “.
In addition, Russia will start using EW assets in the border areas of Syria, suppressing satellite navigation, and also blocking the work of aviation radars and communications. At the Khmeimim airbase, Russian Su-35 fighters are deployed, which are capable interceptors.
However, according to Mikhail Khodarenko, any air defense system will be effective only if it is active, not passive: “If you stand in a pose purely defensive, then even the most modern anti-aircraft missile systems will not help.” The expert explained that this is an impact on the airbase, aircraft carriers, the preparation and conduct of operations to prevent enemy combat flights.
“I do not think that this will lead to any active actions against Israel, because, firstly, Israel considers the Russian presence in Syria as a stabilizing element, and we are not interested in the slightest exacerbation with Israel,” Mikhail believes. Khodarenok.
Another circumstance, which can complicate the situation in Syria very much in connection with the deployment there of the S-300 and other systems, will be that Russian military experts may be at these facilities.
Five years ago, when the issue of deliveries of the S-300 was discussed at the talks between Russia and Israel, the expert community and the media also talked a lot about the consequences of this step, that Moscow hoped that the Israelis would avoid strikes against them positions of the SAM’s, so as not to accidentally kill a Russian citizen.
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But in Israel itself, as the former head of Israeli military intelligence Amos Yadlin stated in April 2018, the issue of deliveries of the S-300 to Syria has been discussed for a long time, and Israel is preparing for it: “If I know our air forces well, we have already drawn up clear plans to counter this threat. When we eliminate the threat (and this is exactly what we will do), we are ready to oppose the new [threat]. “
For Israel, the S-300 complexes pose a threat in themselves, since the range of action makes it possible to shoot down aircraft in the airspace of the Israeli state. In addition, the presence of a more sophisticated SAM will greatly complicate the actions of the Israeli Air Force against sites that are relevant to the organization of Hezbollah or to Iranian military structures.
“The very issue of the Iranian presence in Syria or the transfer and manufacture of precision weapons for Hezbollah is for Israel a matter of principle, and it will not be abandoned on a principled level, but how exactly operations will be carried out under the new conditions will be looked at.
The issue of transferring Syrian S-300 systems is already being actively discussed at the highest political level – Israel and the US are doing their best to dissuade the Russian authorities from this step, Reuters reported.
Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Vladimir Putin and said that the transfer of such effective systems to “irresponsible players” would only complicate the already difficult situation in the region. He also said that Israel will continue to protect its interests.
In response, Putin, according to the Kremlin’s press service, said that he trusted the Russian military, and believed that Israel’s actions led to this difficult situation.
“Vladimir Putin emphasized that the decisions taken by Russia to strengthen the combat capabilities of the Syrian air defense are adequate to the current situation and are aimed primarily at preventing any potential threat to the lives of Russian servicemen performing tasks to combat international terrorism,” the Kremlin website said.
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