A reflection of the latest attack on Duvali Airport in the southeastern part of Damascus, which took place on January 20, can be considered the most unsuccessful for Tel Aviv – none of the missiles launched by the F-16 Israeli Air Force reached the target. All of them were shot down by Russian complexes – the Pantsir S1 air defense missile system and the Buk M2E air defense missile system, which are in service with the Syrian army. 4 Israeli fighters participated in the raid, which launched rocket launches from the Mediterranean area without entering the airspace of Syria. Air defense systems managed to shoot down seven missiles, while victims and destructions at the airport selected as a target were not noted. Where did another rocket go (well, if it is logical to assume that each plane produced two) is not reported. It is likely that it broke through, but did not hit the target.
Here is interesting, and this is the moment – the first successful application of the Pantsir anti-aircraft missile-cannon complex. It is known that Russia supplied about forty such complexes to Syria (they do not take into account the complexes that are located at the Russian bases in Khmeimim and Tartus), but their effectiveness has not been confirmed before. Moreover, the Israeli Spike missile in May 2018 destroyed the Pantsir-C1 of the Syrian army. On the frames posted on the Internet, it is clear that the crew was not ready to attack, and the complex itself was practically not protected from such a missile. Nevertheless, the Russian weapon was dealt a reputational blow.
Now, it turns out, “Pantsir” complexes rehabilitated themselves and confirmed their combat effectiveness. What was immediately reported at the National Center for Defense Management of Russia, where they emphasized the use of such complexes in repelling a missile attack.
The Buk anti-aircraft missile system was also mentioned, which had been supplied to Syria since Soviet times, and in 2010–2013 it was replaced by a more advanced Buk-M2E equipped with Grizzly missiles (SA-17Grizzly) capable of hitting targets at heights from 15 meters to 25 kilometers and at a distance of up to 45 km. His reputation is generally recognized, this complex is the best in its class, so there is no doubt that he contributed to this time too.
For the “Pantsir-S1” previously had claims from the Russian military. The complex demonstrated a low ability to fire maneuvering targets, effectively hitting them only within a radius of 20 kilometers, and even then flying at a speed of no more than 80 meters per second (instead of 1 thousand m / s stated in the specifications). A serious disadvantage was considered the lack of a sustainer engine of its rocket, which moves with negative acceleration, which leads to errors when aiming at the target. Shoot down the drones and helicopters complex is still capable, but in the confrontation with the missiles, he was weak.
The “S1” comes to replace the “Pantsir-SM” ZRPK, which has been developed since 2013 and was first demonstrated at the “Army-2017” forum, which began to enter the Russian Armed Forces in 2018. As far as is known, the new complex is equipped with a new-generation super-power antenna and hypersonic rockets, whose range has been increased to 60 kilometers. And this is a completely new “Pantsir”, even outwardly, it is characterized by increased dimensions and the armored cabin of an eight-wheeled KamAZ-Tornado.
It is known, and this is confirmed by the Ministry of Defense of Russia itself, that since 2014, many types of domestic weapons are being tested in Syria – a sort of huge testing ground in which in actual combat conditions you can “bring to mind” even airplanes and missiles, even armored vehicles and small arms. So maybe now it was involved precisely “Pantsir-SM”, which so cleverly beat Israeli missiles? This is only an assumption, there is no real confirmation of this fact, but it was the Russian military that reported the destruction of Israeli missiles near Damascus.
Of the involved, but not voiced air defense weapons of the Syrian army, the Russian S-300 Favorit air defense system, delivered to Damascus, could also be used. Moscow urgently transferred them to Syria after the story of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft shot down on September 18, 2018, which Israeli aircraft attacked to the Syrian missile.
As far as is known, at present, there are 3 divisions of the S-300 Favorit air defense system in Syria (with 8 mobile installations in each). In order to create a “belt” of air defense around Damascus and a number of adjacent airfields, this is quite enough, but not to repel large-scale air raids throughout the country. At the same time, it is argued that Russia is creating a full-fledged classical air defense system in Syria, which will include a system of rocket fire of near and far radii, a cover for the air defense system, as well as a “all-high” radar field.
The Syrian S-300 has already shot down an Israeli military aircraft, carrying out a rocket attack on Al-Kiswa in November last year. Accurate data on downed missiles are not available, but they are reported regularly. The most “advanced” complexes – S-300PMU-2, which are capable of destroying aerodynamic targets at a distance from 3 to 200 kilometers, ballistic – at a distance from 5 to 40 kilometers, have now been delivered to Syria. In this case, the detection of targets occurs at a distance of 300 kilometers and there is time not only to detect, but also to destroy the air target.
There are in Syria and ZRK-400 “Triumph”, two divisions of which cover the Russian bases of Khmeimim airfield and the port of Tartus, but their use is possible only in the event of a threat to these facilities or military personnel from the structure of the Russian Federation Military Forces. So their participation in repelling attacks on Syrian objects is not provided.
Actually, it is probably not so fundamentally what kind of complexes the Syrian air defenses bring down enemy missiles – “armor”, “Bukami” or S-300. What is more important is their overall effectiveness, which negates Israel’s efforts. Well, and the demonstration of the potential of Russian weapons in this case is not in last place.