Why is the best air defense forces weapon in the world do not fight with the naughty F-16s?
On Sunday afternoon, and early in the morning on Monday, Syria’s air defenses in the Damascus area held two very serious battles with Israeli aircraft.
Briefly recall: according to the Russian Defense Ministry, on January 20, four Israeli F-16 fighters from the airspace outside the borders of Syria fired eight air-to-surface missiles at the Damascus metropolitan airport, where Tel Aviv is confident that they just unloaded another a consignment of weapons from a military transport aircraft from Iran. None of the missiles, according to Damascus, at that time did not achieve the goal. Seven were brought down by the airport’s air defense systems (namely, the Pantsir-S1 air defense missile system and the Buk-M2E air defense missile system of Russian production). One flew away somewhere.
Further events developed approximately like this. Obviously, in retaliation for the attempted unsuccessful raid, the Iranian military from the Damascus environs launched an own medium-range ballistic missile pre-installed on the firing position (these are the data of the Israeli army command of the IDF). Probably, we are talking about a solid-fuel high-precision rocket “Solfagar”, which Tehran has already used in Syria in 2017. But – not for Israel, but for the positions of terrorists.
If it really was “Zolfaghar”, then for the Jewish state such a launch represented a significant danger. Since the firing range of such weapons, the serial production of which in Iran was adjusted several years ago, is about 700 kilometers. And the distance, say, from Damascus to the largest Israeli seaport Haifa is just a little more than 260 kilometers. Therefore, this distance in case of “Zolfaghar”, according to calculations, should be covered with a large margin.
In view of such a serious danger, the Iron Dome anti-missile system of the Israeli army was instantly activated. According to the IDF, “at about 2 pm the battery of the Iron Dome hit this single Iranian rocket over Mount Hermon” in the Golan Heights area.
And in less than 12 hours, a series of three air strikes of retaliation followed objects of Iranians and Hezbollah in Syria. And – almost simultaneously from three different directions – from the west, south-west and south. The first one is at about one in the morning on January 21, Monday. The second a little later, the raid ended with a third blow at about 2:56.
According to the defense department of Russia, all of Israel’s combat aircraft used more than 30 high-precision cruise missiles and guided bombs. According to the London monitoring group The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), it was the largest Israeli air attack on Syria in the entire period of armed confrontation between these two states.
The National Defense Management Center of the Russian Defense Ministry said that “as a result of the blow, the infrastructure of Damascus International Airport was partially damaged.” But the SOHR information is not so optimistic for the Syrians and Iranians: “the radar installation, which was part of the centralized air defense system of Syria”, weapons depots and military facilities of the Iranian forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah at the international airport near Damascus, Al-Kisua and Jamrayya were destroyed. And in the IDF “Iranian intelligence headquarters and training camp of Iranian forces in Syria” was added to the list of hit targets.
According to some data, four Syrian soldiers were killed, according to others – six.
Immediately make a reservation – the Russian group in Syria did not take any part in repelling the raid. Moreover, the representative of the press service of the IDF Jonathan Konrikus said that “with the command of the Russian contingent in Syria on the eve and during the attack, as usual, contacts were maintained on a special line of communication.”
That is, Tel Aviv, on the basis of non-advertised political agreements with Moscow, warned us about everything in advance. It is logical to assume that the information received was somehow brought to President Bashar al-Assad before the raid. Or at least before his generals.
This is probably why the Damascus air defense system was promptly put on alert. Which, however, judging by the subsequent events, did not help her much. And a powerful blow on Monday, unlike Sunday, basically achieved its goals. Little of. The Syrians in the area of the airport due to direct hits by Israeli Delilah missiles lost at least one MILM “Pantsir S1” and SAM “Thor”. In confirmation of the information, the IDF command on Monday distributed relevant video recordings.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this in just a few hours: “We have a consistent policy: to harm Iranian representatives in Syria and harm anyone who tries to harm us.”
Note that in the last month alone, this is the fourth massive rocket attack from the air by the Jewish state in Syria (December 25, 2018, January 12, 20 and 21, 2019). No losses were suffered by the Israeli Air Force, despite the fact that over the past year Russia has seriously strengthened the air defense of its most important ally in the Middle East.
Let me remind you that after the tragic (and accidental) incident in Tel Aviv about the destruction by the IDF of the Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft in Syria on September 17, 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to supply S-300 air defense systems to Syria “Favorite”. They were delivered to this country in early October 2018. According to some reports – three divisions with 24 launchers in each. What, from all points of view, looks very impressive.
At the same time, Russia took up the organization of the centralized control of the air defense of this country with the help of the ACS, which was previously only armed with the Russian Armed Forces. Information appeared in open sources that this extremely effective system should have been on duty at Damascus before October 20.
Why is everything done so far in vain and the Syrians, even with the help of Moscow, are not able to close their skies? Our military believe that just delivering even the most modern and new weapons and automated control systems, setting them in position, debugging and testing is completely inadequate. Russia needs considerable time for at least some tolerable mastery of modern military equipment by its Middle Eastern allies.
And it seems that the Syrian anti-aircraft gunners have not yet had enough of it. Otherwise, how to explain that neither last Sunday nor Monday did any S-300 “Favorite” air defense system Syrian air defense with a probability of hitting targets at 90 percent have been put into battle? We decided to discuss this oddity with Lieutenant-General Alexander Gorkov, until 2008, the head of the Anti-aircraft missile forces of the Russian Air Force.
– Alexander Yuryevich, you are not surprised by the fact that neither on Sunday nor Monday did the S-300s that we had previously transferred to Syrians in the fall never reflected in the Israeli air raids?
- It also surprises me a lot. It is time to respond to Israel so strongly that it will permanently discourage him from striking at another’s land.
– But it is possible that in three months the Arab specialists, we just did not have time to train in the work of the “Favorites”?
– I, of course, do not know the details of the educational process. Although aware that the Syrian officers anti-aircraft gunners in the fall are in the 234th center of combat use of anti-aircraft missile forces in Gatchina (Leningrad region). One has to think that they don’t lose their time there.
– In general, in three or four months, is it really possible to prepare the calculation of the “Favorite” for combat work?
- Only for actions in the simplest, standard conditions. Of course, you will not receive full-value, initiative operators from scratch. Such that understand the physics of processes, and not just pressed the buttons.
– And if behind the back of everyone at the console to put on an experienced and knowledgeable Russian military adviser?
– Surely now this is exactly what you have to do in Syria.
– Then why the three divisions of the S-300 did not even try to engage in battle with Israeli fighters?
– I think, because the Israelis are not fools at all. In the airspace of Syria, they do not fly. Missile launches carried out from Lebanon.
– “Favorites” would be able to reach there?
– Of course. One small thing is not enough – the command to shoot over the heads of the Lebanese. This is not yet Israel. And not Syria.
– I understand you correctly, what is missing is the main thing – the political will of Moscow?
– Yes. If we pick up the courage and shoot down at least one F-16 over Lebanon, immediately the desire to freak out in Syria from this state at Tel Aviv will diminish.
– What level should be the solution?
Yes, you yourself understand who is the only one who gives such teams in Russia. Alas, no team yet. That is why the raids on Damascus and its surroundings continue.