People watch S-300 air defense missile systems launching missiles during the Keys to the Sky competition at the International Army Games 2017 at the Ashuluk shooting range outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 5, 2017. .
(photo credit: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV)
The Russian Defense Ministry published video Tuesday night of the delivery of the S-300 missile system to Syria.
Aired by Rossiya 23 TV channel it showed the launcher, radar and command and control vehicle of the advanced air-to-surface missile system launcher being unloaded from a military transport plane.
“We have completed the delivery of S-300 systems. It included 49 pieces of equipment, including radars, control vehicles and four launchers,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was quoted by Russia’s TASS News Agency.
The unloading from an Antonov An-124 Ruslan strategic airlift jet took place at night at the Khmeimim Air Base in Syria.
Shoigu said Russia successfully delivered the S-300s to Syria on Tuesday as a response to the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane over Syria last month.
“In conformity with the presidential decision, we have begun to carry out a number of measures to reinforce Syria’s air defense systems in order to ensure better protection for our servicemen,” he was quoted by TASS during a Russian security council meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin.
Following the downing of the jet, Moscow announced it would supply Syria with the advanced S-300 missile defense system and impose electronic countermeasures over Syria’s coastline. Those countermeasures would suppress satellite navigation, onboard radar systems and communications of warplanes attacking targets on Syrian territory.
“We have finished personnel recruitment and have begun to train them,” said Shoigu, adding that it would take the Syrian army at least three months to learn how to use the system.
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Fifteen Russian servicemen were killed when the IL-20 was hit by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile off the coastal city of Latakia in September. 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.
The incident has led to one of the lowest points in the relationship between Jerusalem and Moscow in years.
Last week, an Israeli official was quoted by Israeli media as saying that the advanced anti-aircraft system was “a complicated challenge” for Israel, but that the Jewish state was “dealing with it in different ways, not necessarily by preventing the delivery.”
According to foreign reports, Israeli pilots have already trained to defeat the system, training in Greece and Cyprus where the system has been operating since the late 1990s.
The Israel Air Force also has the F-35i Adir stealth fighter jets, which are able to operate undetected deep inside enemy territory, as well as evade advanced missile defense systems like the advanced Russian-made S-300 and S-400 missile defense systems.
“The operational abilities of the air force are such that those (S-300) batteries really do not constrain the air force’s abilities to act,” Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi told Army Radio on Wednesday.
“You know that we have stealth fighters, the best planes in the world. These batteries are not even able to detect them,” he said referring to the F-35i Adir jets.
Israel has admitted to having carried out 200 strikes in Syria against Iranian and Hezbollah targets in the past year and half and is suspected of carrying out hundreds of others.
“We have clarified to the Syrians more than once that we will not step back from our commitment to prevent Iran’s entrenchment in Syria,” Hanegbi said, adding a veiled threat to take action against the S-300 on the ground: “We were already forced, a few months ago, to destroy Syrian missile batteries, and I hope they won’t challenge us in the future.”
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