Russian President Vladimir Putin (C), Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu (R) and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad visit the Hmeymim air base in Latakia Province, Syria December 11, 2017.
(photo credit: SPUTNIK/MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS)
Russia will supply an S-300 air defense missile system to Syria within two weeks as a response to the downing of an Ilyushin military plane over the war-torn country last week, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced on Monday.
The delivery of the advanced missile defense system to Syria is “an adequate response” to Israel’s role in the downing of the Russian plane last week, he was quoted as saying by Russia media during a briefing.
The system will be deployed to boost the security of Russian troops in Syria and will ensure the identification of Russian aircraft by Syrian air defense forces.
"The command posts of Syrian air defense forces and units will be equipped with automated control systems only supplied to the Russian armed forces. This will facilitate centralized control over all forces and resources of the Syrian air defense, monitor the situation in the air, and ensure operative issuance of orders. Most importantly, we will guarantee the identification of all Russian aircraft by the Syrian air defense systems," TASS news quoted Shoigu as saying.
According to the Russian defense ministry, Moscow will also impose electronic countermeasures over Syria’s coastline which would “suppress satellite navigation, onboard radar systems and communications of warplanes attacking targets on Syrian territory.”
Syrian air defenses are largely antiquated Soviet-era systems, with SA-2s, SA-5s, and SA-6s as well as the more sophisticated tactical surface-to-air missiles such as the SA-17s and SA-22 systems. Moscow has also supplied the short range Pantsir S-1 to the Assad regime.
The advanced S-300 would be a major upgrade to the Syrian air defenses and would pose a threat to Israeli jets on missions as the long-range missile defense system can track objects, such as aircraft and ballistic missiles over a range of 300 kilometers.
A full battalion includes six launcher vehicles with each vehicle carrying four missile containers for a total of 24 missiles as well as command-and-control and long-range radar detection vehicles.
The system’s engagement radar, which can guide up to 12 missiles simultaneously, helps guide the missiles towards the target. With two missiles per target, each launcher vehicle can engage up to six targets at once.
Moscow had refused to supply the surface-to-air missile system to Syria a few years ago after taking into account the pressing request of some Western countries.
Shoigu stated Monday that the situation surrounding it’s deployment has since “changed through no fault of Russia,” and stressed that if measures taken by Russia following the downing of the reconnaissance plane “failed to cool hotheads, we will have to respond in line with the situation.”
Fifteen Russian servicemen were killed when the IL-20 was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile last week off the coastal city of Latakia and Moscow has placed the blame for the incident solely on Israel and has accused the IDF of having endangered the lives of personnel in Syria during other military operations.
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