Another NATO member chooses between the Russian air defense system and the American fighter F-35.
Passions over the introduction of Russian military equipment in the countries that are members of NATO continue to glow. This time, the object of anger in the United States could be Greece.
No, this country is not going to buy an anti-aircraft missile system issued by the Almaz-Antey concern. It already owns two divisions of the S-300 Favorit complex. And now the question arose about the modernization of the complex by Russian specialists. It is on this occasion that there has been a tension between Athens and Washington.
True, Washington has not yet said its “last word.” NATO functionaries from European countries speak for it. And they say that if Greece decides to admit Russian engineers to its air defense systems, then it will not see American fifth-generation F-35 fighter-bombers. Because this can lead to a decrease in the combat potential of the air forces of countries that own the latest American aircraft.
And Greece seems ready to make this sacrifice in order to bring its complex to a modern state.
The history of the appearance of the Russian S-300 complex in Greece dates back to the last century. In 1996, the Republic of Cyprus, that is, the Greek part of the island that is not part of NATO, bought from Russia two S-300PMU1 air defense divisions. The complexes were delivered. But it was not possible to put them on combat alert, as Turkey sharply opposed this, saying that it would upset the fragile regional military balance. Turkey was supported by the United States and Great Britain, which holds its military bases on the island. And the equipment stood idle for a long time. That is, it was just stored.
In 2006, the case moved forward. Greece has gained the right to acquire and establish a Cyprus air defense system. And it was also not easy, since the States, I must say, reacted to this with disapproval. But, fortunately, it did not come to twisting the arms and using heavy diplomatic artillery.
But only in 2013 the complex was tested in training firing. The S-300PMU1, installed on the island of Crete, hit an actively maneuvering target at an altitude of 2000 meters, located 30 kilometers away.
In 2015, a scandal broke out provoked by the Reuters news agency. Information was circulated according to which Greece took part in joint exercises with Israel using the S-300PMU1, during which the Israeli military thoroughly studied the Russian complex. Invaluable information was obtained that allowed Israeli fighter pilots to overcome the Syrian air defense zone to launch missile and bomb attacks on military targets, both in Syria and Iran. And also on the territory of Iran, which operates 4 divisions S-300PMU2.
Greece immediately issued a “rebuke to the slanderers.” An official statement by the Greek Air Force General Staff said: “Publications in some electronic media with reference to a telegram from Reuters regarding the military exercises of a foreign state to combat the Greek S-300 anti-aircraft system are completely unfounded. The Air Force General Staff declares that it has never conducted this kind of training with any third country. Military aviation does not disclose confidential information about operational capabilities and data.”
There was a rebuke, of course. However, as they say, the sediment remained. What can be observed now, when Israeli pilots raid military targets located in Syria without great risk. After all, the Syrian army is equipped precisely with the S-300PM2 complex. Here, of course, we can talk about a conspiracy of Tel Aviv with Moscow over the regime of “access to facilities”. But this conspiracy extends to the operation of the S-400 air defense system, which is served by the Russian military. And the S-300 is Syrian weapons, which Assad can use at his own discretion.
So why did the Greeks need the modernization of the S-300? For the simple reason that Russia is able to significantly increase the combat capabilities of the complex. After all, the modification of the S-300PMU1 appeared in the early 90s. Almost three decades have passed since then, during which the Almaz-Antey concern strengthened the characteristics of its products.
It is assumed that the modernization should be carried out to the level of S-300PMU2. An additional 48N6E2 missile will appear, in connection with which the interception range will increase from 150 km to 200 km. This, of course, is essential. But the main benefits will come from upgrading the management system.
But the main advantages will be obtained from the modernization of the control system and the radars included in the complex. Due to this, it will be possible to significantly increase the noise immunity and multichannel complex, as well as reduce the reaction time. S-300PMU2 is capable of simultaneously tracking not 12, but 72 targets. And at the same time to fire not 6, but 36 targets.
This improves the ability of the complex to intercept low-flying targets. Radio electronics S-300PMU2 is capable of detecting targets with EPR up to 0.02 sq.m. That is, all the “invisibles” for him are quite visible.
It is clear that the Greeks are more than interested in such a modernization. It is no accident that they are ready to refuse to supply American F-35 fighters to their Air Force. True, these deliveries have not yet been planned, since Greece is among the five so-called “potential buyers” of this aircraft – along with Singapore, Romania, Spain and Poland. In April of this year, Minister of Defense Evangelos Apostolakis said that upgrading the F-16 fighter to its latest modification is not enough to maintain the combat effectiveness of the domestic Air Force. We also need “fresh blood”, that is, F-35.
Americans are not satisfied with the modernization of the Greek S-300 air defense system. Since in this case, Russia can obtain secret data on the F-35. Russian specialists admitted to the Greek complex for carrying out commissioning work on it can gain access to the secret codes of the friend-or-foe identification system. And that will be a disaster. In addition, other prospects open up for Russians if they secretly equip the complex with software bookmarks that will broadcast (after all, the radar is the transmitter) other data. For example, it would be extremely useful to get information about how obscure the vaunted American fighter is. That is, what is the effective dispersion area of the aircraft in all angles. And also, what are the capabilities of its airborne radar.
The fact is that in terms of the theft of classified information using the latest military equipment, Americans are great specialists. This is part of the F-35 “terms of reference”. In December 2017, Lars Gyambl, senior consultant for the Norwegian Ministry of Defense, told reporters that recently purchased Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter bombers secretly transmit secret information to the manufacturer’s servers located in Fort Worth, Texas.
And the radar of this aircraft with an active phased array antenna has excellent opportunities for collecting this kind of information. He is busy not only with active location, but also communicates, and distributes electronic warfare signals, and performs mapping of the area. It can also carry out electronic intelligence. That is, in passive mode, collect data on the electromagnetic radiation of ground objects and ships. The Pentagon is keenly interested in collecting such information around the world.
Curiously, after a public statement by Lars Gyambl, the note of protest was not transferred to the American embassy. That is Big Brother. We talked and parted. But before that, Gyambl assured the public that Norwegian engineers would create a filter that would prevent information leakage.
Returning to the Greek problem, it should be said that no contracts for the modernization of the air defense system yet exist. Russia is ready to carry out the necessary work. Greece could go out of the line for a spy fighter.