The Russian Minister of Defense today announced some of the measures to be taken in Syria in response to last weeks destruction of its electronic warfare plane with 15 airmen on board. Yesterday the Russian MoD held Israel responsible for the incident.
Shortly after the event happened we noted:
On Netanyahoo's personal request Russia had stopped the delivery of original Russian S-300 long range air-defense missiles to the Syrian military. These would have been less likely to veer off towards the wrong target. In consequence an Iranian 747 was damaged and 15 Russian soldiers were killed. Netanyahoo can forget about any further such 'favors' from Moscow.
Yesterday we added:
The incident will have consequences on several levels. For one - the airspace along the Syrian coast will now be off limits for Israeli flights
The Syrian air defense will be further strengthened and modernized. Its personal will get more specialist training. But the probably worst issue for Israel's military will be cooled down relations with the Russian forces. There will be no more freebies, no more looking aside and direct Russian fire on Israeli forces should they again try such stunts.
These predicted measures are exactly the ones Defense Minister Shoigu announced today. Syria will get the S-300, its air defense will be further updated, Syria's coast will be more heavily defended:
MOSCOW, September 24./TASS/. Within two weeks, the Syrian army will get from Russia S-300 air-defense missiles to strengthen its combat capabilities following the downing of a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft in Syria, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Monday.
Syria ordered the S-300 systems in 2013 but Russia held back the delivery on Israel's request. Syria also had more urgent needs, especially for short range air-defense systems, which Russia delivered in large numbers. It were these systems that allowed the Syrian air defense to disable a high number of U.S. cruise missiles fired against it in April. The S-300, with a reach of up to 250 kilometers, will be able to target Israeli planes over Lebanon as well as deep within Israeli air space.
The delivery of the S-300s via transport planes from Russia already begun. There are several sub types of the system and a number of different radar combinations to guide them. There is no information yet about the exact types Syria will be equipped with and in what numbers. The first deployment will likely be around the capital Damascus.
Shoigu also announced that Syria's air defenses will now be equipped with Russian IFF systems:
"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 aircrafts by the Syrian air defense systems," Shoigu said.
Identification Friend or Foe systems are the holy grail of any air force. With IFF an air defense radar sends an secret challenge to any unidentified airplane it detects. If the code is correct, a friendly airplane will respond with an identification token. The systems use special frequencies, strong cryptography and a daily changing code that is kept ultra secret. (NATO procedures demand that two officers cooperate in any update of such codes.) Russia held back these codes from Syria to avoid them leaking to potential enemies. It is likely that Russian officers will be present at the Syrian air defense command posts to handle the issue.
Russia will also take additional electronic warfare measures to hinder potential attacks near its bases in Syria:
The third measure announced by the Russian defense ministry is a blanket of electronic countermeasures over Syrian coastline, which would “suppress satellite navigation, onboard radar systems and communications of warplanes attacking targets on Syrian territory.”
Shoigu said the measures are meant to “cool down ‘hotheads’ and prevent misjudged actions posing a risk to our service members.” He added that if such a development fails to materialize, the Russian military “would act in accordance to the situation.”
The area where these electronic measures will be applied will certainly include most of Lebanon which air space Israel used several times to attack Syria. That and the upgrades of Syria's defenses will not be the only steps Russia will take. There will be additional political measure against Israel which are yet to be announced.
Israel knows that it can only do little against the Russian responses to its devious attack. That is why some of its lawmakers now ask for even greater U.S. involvement in Syria. The U.S. military will not be happy about that.
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