Syrian engagement of Russian air defense analyzed


The large-scale Israeli air raid on Syrian facilities on the night of January 21 is widely discussed by Russian and world media. Some experts hurried to describe it as a rout of the Syrian air defense and others said Russian air defense was routed in Syria. However photos and videos and satellite pictures provide a more objective picture, the Izvestia daily writes. This time, the Israeli aircraft selected both Iranian targets and air defense systems in Syria. The latter acquires experience and downs precision weapons. As a result, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) attack was launched against it.


Syrian engagement of Russian air defense analyzed
Pantsir-S1 of the Syrian Air Defense (Picture source: SANA)


Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman threatened to completely and immediately destroy Syrian air defense, if necessary. But it did not happen so far. The Israeli Defense Ministry initially said six air defense facilities were attacked near Damascus. However, its own materials confirmed the destruction of only three objects. Two stationary Syrian radars and one launcher were destroyed. Given all losses in the protracted war, it is a minuscule share of the national air defense and there can be no talk about its rout.

The main Israeli success was the confirmed destruction of one Syrian Pantsir-S1. But the published video shows the loss was the same as last May. Pantsir was recharging its round of munitions. The transloader is clearly seen, as well as the radar folded for a march. It means the weapon was in no way protected at the moment.

Other footage shows another Pantsir-S1 effectively repelling a group attack of precision weapons. The Israeli Defense Ministry edited the footage to create an impression that the launcher was destroyed. But it was hardly necessary to do it, had the launcher been truly destroyed. The Israeli missiles likely missed the moving and firing launcher. Satellite pictures published by Israel provide no confirmation to the destruction claim.

Thus, not more than a half of the targets was hit. Debris of a downed Israeli bomb were found near Damascus. There are numerous fragmentation holes from an antiaircraft missile on the guided gliding Spicer bomb. It is a confirmation of the capabilities of modern Russian weapons to fight such munitions.

Naturally, the Syrian air defense is in a disadvantageous situation. The adversary can choose a place, time and strike intensity and engage electronic warfare. Israeli aircraft profit from the supremacy in long-range weapons and drones and do not enter the air defense zone and the Syrian airspace. The existing balance of forces makes losses inevitable specifically among outdated complexes.

Syria operates short-range Russian air defense weapons used to defend objects but incapable of changing the strategic air situation. Other weapons are necessary for that. The training of personnel for S-300 transferred to Syria has not been completed yet and the weapons are not engaged in repelling the airstrikes. They will not eliminate the threat altogether after becoming operational.

It is possible to break through any air defense, whether it is the Russian Pantsir or S-400, the Israeli Iron Dome, or the US Patriot. Even the best weapon in the world cannot down more air weapons than the number of missiles it has.

The Syrian air defense is far from an ideal form. It will not be able to fully defend the country from foreign attacks even when it reaches it. It is impossible to engage only the air defense umbrella in a modern war. But even now the Syrian air defense creates problems for the Israeli Air Force. The experience of engaging Russian weapons by Syria, both positive and negative, is thoroughly analyzed and will benefit Syria and Russia, the Izvestia said.


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