Home » Air » What Do We Know About Syria’s Air Defenses?

What Do We Know About Syria’s Air Defenses?

by John Reed on June 28, 2012

Given last week’s downing of a Turkish RF-4 Phantom, that was likely on a recconaissance mission, by the Syrian military, we thought it would be an appropriate time to look at Syria’s air defenses.

We frequently hear White House and Pentagon officials citing Syria’s advanced air defenses as a reason for thinking twice about starting an air campaign against the government of Bashar al Assad. Ask an American intel officer and I bet he’ll tell you that he’s spent plenty of time looking at how the U.S. would penetrate Syria’s integrated air defenses, which are some of the thickest and most advanced in the region, some claim they are tougher to penetrate than Iran’s.

Remember a few years ago when Israeli war planes managed to take out a suspected nuclear facility inside Syria? Well, that prompted Damascus to buy some advanced weaponry from Russia — a move that may have allowed it to give its older 1970s-vintage Soviet-made air defense gear to Hezbollah in Lebanon. (If you want to read about how effective those systems were, just read this.)

So, what has the Syrian air defense corps been upgrading its old SA-2s and SA-6s with? Well, rumors about that the RF-4 was shot down by a brand new Russian-made SA-22 system. The SA-22 is a mobile antiaircraft system the equipped with its own target acquisition and tracking radars and it carries 12 medium range 57E6 radio-guided surface-to-air missiles and two 30 mm autocannon. Yeah, it’s a nasty little system designed to protect ground troops, cities and even more advanced, high-altitude surface to air missile systems.

Speaking of high-altitude Russian-built SAM systems, dubbed triple digit SAMS, that keep American planners awake at night, Syria’s probably got them.

Specifically, Damascus reportedly has the S-300 air defense system that has long been considered one of the world’s most advance SAM systems.

Still, as this Seattle Times article points out, just because Syria has some fancy — and threatening — Russian hardware doesn’t mean that it’s military is fully adept at operating it, nor does it mean that the United States hasn’t figured out how it will deal with such SAM threats.

“We can deal with the Syrian integrated air defenses,” said retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who oversaw Air Force intelligence efforts in the Pentagon. “It is much, much more challenging than Libya. They have some of the most recent surface-to-air missiles out there. But before we address the how, we need to address the why.”

The article goes on to say:

Even a relatively sophisticated air-defense system has potential weaknesses. Although Syria’s looks good on paper, it’s not clear the Syrians have the trained personnel to operate it effectively, analysts said.

U.S. officials said they are also unsure whether the Syrians can maintain and repair the system.

The U.S. and NATO forces would also employ jammers and other sophisticated technology to disrupt Syria’s radar and communications systems not in use by the Turkish aircraft.

Remember, Russia may have stopped deliveries of S-300 systems and it may have pulled out its technicians advising Syrians on how to use the systems.


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{ 101 comments… read them below or add one }

Andy June 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Can F22 take out these targets?


JJanson June 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm

It depends, only some F-22's are even equipped with ground attack equipment.


Af Ekhad June 28, 2012 at 2:36 pm

So far, whenever the Syrians got into air battle, it rained Migs…Getting through their air defenses should not take any western air force more than a few hours.


tiger June 28, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Better question is can the pilots fly the F-22 without Hypoxia before they get there.


Anonymous June 28, 2012 at 9:41 pm

The jets are fine – it's the pilots fault! Support the troops!!


ghostwhowalksnz June 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

spray- can- jingoism.
Find the causes and fix the problem, design,maintenance or personnel- that supports the troops and protects the public.


Tribulationtime June 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm

What "probably got them" means? Can not say intel if Russia sold it?. Israel take a walk over Syria in 2007 (5 years), How quickly a integrate AirDef can be build in real world?. Are we talking about a harder nutshell than Iraq defenses in Desert Storm (keeping in mind what assaulter was less advanced tech than today)?


BigGuy97 June 28, 2012 at 1:55 pm

We are talking about "Hooked on Phonics" book 2.


Nenad June 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm

there's a catch: Russian or other Eastern European mercenaries might be operating some of those. If that rumors true modern systems can be deadly, and those old can do more if being mobile, as seen above Serbia in 1999. So it's all about how far will Russia goes to stop the US, just selling guns or sending mercs too.
The US can destroy those systems either way, but there's a question of cost, even loss of few aircraft and capture of 10 pilots can be huge problem.
And finally the political questions, since those rebels are linked to Al Qaeda, and Assad is linked with Hezbollah, Hamas, Russia and Iran. No good guys there. If we speak about women rights for instance than Assad is less fanatical.


DGR June 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm

What are cruise missles for again? O ya, this!

We also have the combat proven B-2, and my self preservation instinct tells me id rather not be in a S-300 site when those things start arriving. But again, its not if we can destroy them, its why.


Richard Stalker June 28, 2012 at 2:18 pm

and F-117, and B-1B, our stealth and stealthy aircraft would not have too much problem bringing the pain


Ethan June 28, 2012 at 2:33 pm

F-117's were retired in 2006. While we still have them, it would take quite a bit of work to bring them back into service


Andy June 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm

F117 are really not retire….


blight_ June 28, 2012 at 7:43 pm
blight_ June 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

SA-22's can be truck mounted, though the other possibility is an AFV like the 2S6 (which is used for the older Tunguska). This platform is meant more for local air defense. 12 mile range to the Stinger's 4 but it appears that it depends on the launch vehicle to guide them in, whereas Stinger (having MANPAD origins) is fire and forget.

Not sure why there are no seekers in those missiles. It would make sense to use a vehicle's mounted sensor systems to find long range targets, direct a missile to the target and then let the missile sort it out at close range (or turn off radars and displace)

This suggests that they need a way to conceal wireless transmission, lest a HARM missile find its way into the target. This unit is more of a medium air defense, between short ranged stuff like Iglas, Strelas and Stingers and larger items like the Patriot, the S-300 et al.

Frankly, I'm a little surprised that something with 12 mile range dropped an RF-4. Perhaps they kept systems off until an observer reported spotting it, causing them to activate radars to find, acquire and destroy. Or perhaps someone had already attempted to operate against the Syrian border forces, causing Air Defense systems to be on alert and trigger-happy.

Hypothetical: Israel or Turkey are running clandestine resupply or intimidation flights just off the border. Assad wishes to put a stop to resupply efforts, and issues orders to destroy aircraft once they cross the border, especially if any adjacent nation-state decides to open military intervention with aircraft. However, one RF-4 crosses the border, and gets shot down for its trouble.


Few cents June 28, 2012 at 3:51 pm

How funny, nobody considered russian personnel operating those SAM's.
If you dig, you will find some clues to prove this is very realistic scenario. Just my few cents into topic. Also not so many knows that 100k russia citizens are on Syrian soil.
How many are military personell, I dont know. But its known that their military is strongly represented, not mentioning their naval base and Specnaz troops.


blight_ June 28, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Good point. They did send techs to operate SAM systems in Vietnam, pilots in Korea and technicians to keep the Afghan Army (when it was theirs) operational. They even had Scuds…so definitely required Soviet techs.

That said, I wouldn't discount Russian techs. Civilians of course, and technical representatives. (or sheepdipped, but it's all the same).


Stratege November 6, 2012 at 1:28 pm

"Not sure why there are no seekers in those missiles. It would make sense to use a vehicle's mounted sensor systems to find long range targets, direct a missile to the target and then let the missile sort it out at close range (or turn off radars and displace)"

The main reason is cost of those missiles.
As for HARM, Syria has "Gazetchik-E" defense systems which are pretty effective against a anti-Radar Missiles.


Lance June 28, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Most of Syria's Air defenses are obsolete SA-2 and SA-3 SAMs and they do have a number of older SA-6s. They are buying a number of SA-10 and SA-20s new from Russia which are new and deadly SAM, but they are in smaller numbers. Overall low altitude sames are all over from older SA-8 and 9s to newer SA-13s. And many MANPADS from SA-14s threw SA-18s. Its dangerous to say it be easy never underestimate a opponent in battle. Plus I think its not worth the time supporting a Islamist rebelling trying to set up a AL Queada like state any way.

Overall the Syrian Air Force has everything from 60s era MiG-21s to new MiG-29s but there pilots suck so that's the main thing air to air no real challenge to F-15 pilots but the Army's SAMs may prove to be deadly.


tiger June 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm

What is this "WE" stuff? The US has looked the other way for a year. "We" are not changing that policy any time soon. NATO has called no joy & Russia & China have vetoed any UN serious action. So the stuff goes on……


ghostwhowalksnz June 29, 2012 at 6:44 pm

Exactly, the real problem is Iran.


STemplar June 28, 2012 at 3:13 pm

The US can easily overwhelm and annihilate Syria if we chose to. The question is political, not military. Would we without a UN mandate? Not likely since many of the NATO countries balk at the idea. Why would we change a policy that's basically been group hugs by politicians over the last year in one city or another, we won't. It's an election year and it is close. The American public is tired of war and the last poll #s say no way to that option, which pretty much means it's 'off the table'. Some new massacre isn't going to change that, there are already pushing upwards of 100 reported deaths a day in Syria so that's not going to change the equation either.


Mike June 28, 2012 at 4:05 pm

This is an ugly situation and it will only deteriorate. Russian civilians on the ground in Syria during a revolution means Russian Marines, Speznaz, Airborne…you name it. If the shoe were on the other foot, we would do the same (Witness: Saigon 1975). Nonetheless, this is NOT the time to become militarily embroiled any further in this part of the world. There's too much going on elsewhere that really does require our undivided attention, such as the Pacific theater of operations.


Brian Black June 29, 2012 at 6:34 am

I think you're right. How many real Russian civilians would hang around in that place. As soon as the regime falls there'll likely be some bloody retribution, and the Rooskies are backing the wrong side. I wouldn't be hanging around waiting for my throat to be cut, I'd be on the first flight back to Moscow.

The Russians have sent two assault ships to be ready to pull out their garrison when the time comes; that shows their confidence in the situation.


LEP June 28, 2012 at 4:19 pm

The article omits some very important details regarding the upgrade of Syria's air defenses. There is too much focus on what Russian short-range air defense systems (SHORADS) Syria has acquired from Russia since the Israeli Defense Force-Aerospace Force (IDF-AF) bombed the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in Sept. 2007. What is missing are the North Korean upgrades to the Syrian air defense search and fire control radars of the older Soviet SAM systems that Syria still operates (e.g., SA-2, SA-3, SA-6). The replacement of older Soviet vacuum tube technology with digital circuitry increases the lethality of these older missile batteries. The shooting down of the USAF F-117 Nighthawk by a Serbian SA-3 battery – albeit with a "locally modified" radar was not an accident during the 1999 Kosovo crisis.


blight_ June 28, 2012 at 4:38 pm

The other problem is marketing.

Within each SA designation, we generally gloss over the surveillance radar and targeting radars.


ghostwhowalksnz June 29, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Even the U2 was shot down when it was thought invulnerable at the time.
You can make small improvements to your missiles and tactics each time you try while improving an aircraft takes a complete new version.
Knowing what SAM threat you are up against is only half the problem, knowing how they use it is much harder


blight_ June 29, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Which illustrates complacency. The Soviets deployed extended range missiles to that battery, then ripple-fired Powers.

Then again, there is that conspiracy theory that Powers was set up to make Eisenhower look bad on the eve of a summit with the Soviets….

However, Rolf Andersen was killed over Cuba during the Missile Crisis, and by then we knew that it was game over for the U-2.


LEP June 28, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Because the crew of the Turkish Air Force (THK) did not survive, I tend to believe the Turkish government theory that this aircraft was hit by one or more unspecified SAMs (the Turks allege heat seeking SAMs). The Syrians allege that this aircraft was so close to their coast line that it was hit by conventional 23 mm and 57 mm AAA. Since the THK RF-4E was in a "race track" pattern within Syrian air space for about 15 minutes and at low height, the Syrian theory is plausible but, then, at least one crew member could have successfully ejected and survived. It is totally unclear why the Turkish crew chose to stay in the area if they were first illuminated by Syrian air defense search radars and then by fire control radars as well. The THK RF-4E was adequately equipped with RWR-ECM equipment possibly of Israeli origin.


Mitch S. June 29, 2012 at 10:53 am

They may have been doing this for a while and got used to being painted by Syrian radars. When they realized missiles were launched it would be too late.


ghostwhowalksnz June 29, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Yes, and if ( a big if) they were flying parallel to the coast at a constant low level, it was making it too easy for the Syrians.


oli June 29, 2012 at 12:14 am

Sgorsky first you don’t have the level of sophistication in computing power to know if a missile/drone is armed or not. That’s why you need the French to build u ships that’s why that’s why you need to acquire western tech. That’s why your in the paranoid state that your in. That’s why your trying to copy the western model example Darpa its all so obvious. I could come up with so many strategies to defeat your systems that you would have to create one for ever strategy and go bankrupt you wouldn’t be able to keep up. I’m one man.


dino June 29, 2012 at 1:10 am

I had an idea that I would like to share with homeland security, Nsa, and FBI. This would be more of law then a technological breakthrough. It would be mandatory for all business that have a security system to have it tied into a cloud server. From every bodega to every toys r us and mc Donald’s. The server would then be tied to a supercomputer with face, and fingerprint recognition. THe supercomputer will not only match up faces of suspected criminals as well as fingerprints but would also monitor peeps or civilians who are about to commit a criminal act. Business owned would get a tax break for installing the camera equipment or existing equipment can be modified with little expense to send real time info to the cloud. People could say this is an invasion of there privacy but when you walk into a store or a parking lot isn’t there a camera that’s already recording. This has major advantages. It not only helps CIA NSA FBI and local police find the bad guys. You can further tie this in with people’s cell phones. I’m not going into details. Lets say hypothetically someone was trying to plant a bomb or the license plates didn’t match up it would bring up a red flag all this can be done with cloud, supercomputers and new or existing cameras in every store and traffic lights. A simple law has to be put in place with incentives for this to work.


platypusfriend June 29, 2012 at 1:28 am

Everyone gets their day to be an idiot. Today, it's your day.


mac101 June 29, 2012 at 1:39 am

What the f*** has your post got to do with Syria's air defens


blight_ June 29, 2012 at 8:34 am

Goodbye civil libs.

The Thought Police is protecting your free will: to love big brother


guest June 29, 2012 at 10:41 am

Alright…Who let this moron in?


Ripberger June 29, 2012 at 3:58 am

If the US or NATO does intervene like in Libya, then what? Much of the fighting is taking place in the cities. Airstrikes against Syrian ground troops would cause more civilian casualties. Assad's forces would likely concentrate near civilian centers (like orphanages, hospitals, etc.) knowing that Western forces try to avoid civilian casualties. Also, I knew some things about the Libyan rebels during their civil war, but I know absolutely nothing from media reports about the goals of the Syrian rebels except to kill Assad. I'm not even sure if they are united except in having a common enemy. Is the US/NATO aiding them going to bring peace and stability or not? Is aiding them a net positive for the US in the War on Terror?

There are so many human rights abuses and massacres committed by foreign governments throughout the world. Is the US going to intervene in all those cases? Can we? Should we? When France was going through its revolution in the late 1700s, there was pressure from France (which helped the US in its revolution) and within the US to help the French revolutionaries. President Washington decided against intervention. He didn't want the US getting involved in a chaotic situation, even to help a friend and ally. As selfish as it seems, I think I agree with Washington's stance that a country has to consider its own national interests and cost-risk analysis before intervening in another country's conflict. Colin Powell put it another way: "You break it, you bought it."

The general is right that the US/NATO could take out Assad's air defense network. The real question is "why?"


ghostwhowalksnz June 29, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Syrian army hitting civilians?, hey the Israelis do it all the time. Remember the Beirut suburb they flattened, using US equipment or Apaches doing the same on parts of Palestinian cities.
No time to get worked up over 'the other side' being the bad guys


blight_ June 29, 2012 at 7:58 pm

Don't forget Sabra and Shatilla. That's the fun part about auxillaries, you can absolve yourself if they go off the reservation.


Hampton Stephens June 29, 2012 at 11:34 am

On expert says NATO could achieve air superiority over Syria in 48 hours: http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/12


Rob June 29, 2012 at 11:56 am

Interesting discussion gents… __The Turkish F-4 was shot down by the SA-22 (Pantsir-S1).


TomUK June 29, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Seems reasonable, if a bit definitive. I see that Wikipedia concurs. Hard evidence would be interesting.


ghostwhowalksnz June 29, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Yeah evidence is a bit thin when the wreckage is at the bottom of the sea… then again


kski June 29, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Well I'm willing to wagger that the OPPLAN for Syria is already made and given out to the key commands i.e. Navy Strike Groups of all types and the big guns of the Air Force, B1Bs, B2s, and our old but reliable pal the the B-52, as well as the needed fighter and support wings needed to fulfill a proper air campaign. I'd give our forces a good long month before they can roam the skys without having to fear for anything thats guided. But people shooting SA-7s or just filling the air with Triple AAA is another story. But thats why we train and plan for it.


orly? July 1, 2012 at 9:12 am

You speak heresy lol


blight_ July 1, 2012 at 2:49 pm

We may have overflight issues with neighbors who disagree about striking against Syria, just as the US had to face in '86. Aircraft had to fly around Europe to strike at Libya instead of going over Spain (or was it France?)


STemplar July 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm

France. If we use naval assets and bombers we don't need anyone's permission.


blight_ July 1, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Wikipedia alleges:

"For the Libyan raid, the United States was denied overflight rights by France, Spain and Italy as well as the use of European continental bases, forcing the Air Force portion of the operation to be flown around France, Spain and through the Straits of Gibraltar, adding 1,300 miles (2,100 km) each way and requiring multiple aerial refuelings. The French refusal alone added 2,800 km total, and was imposed despite the fact that France itself had been the target of terrorism directed by the Gaddafi government in Libya. French president Mitterrand refused its clearance because the United States refused to give to the French army all details about the operation and he did not want to authorize any foreign operation that couldn't be analysed by French authorities."

I guess France and Spain would make it annoying for aircraft flying from the UK. And I guess going through Germany wouldn't work if Italy said no; and it would also kill your element of surprise when people see F-111's flying south to the Med.


LEP June 29, 2012 at 2:53 pm

And after the "air campaign" that you contemplate against Syria, then what? I am not an apologist for the Assad regime and its murderous campaign against its own citizens, but nobody is going to be happy (that includes Israel, Lebanon and Jordan) if and when Al Qaeda will get a permanent foothold in a disintegrating Syria (a repeat of the 2003-2008 Iraq experience). Turkey has the potential strategic goal of a "land grab" in a dissolving Syria given the undersea natural gas deposits that exist in the area (e.g., Leviathan gas field and Field 12 in the exclusive economic zones of respectively Israel and the independent island Republic of Cyprus), but that is not necessarily consistent with our national security goals or those of Israel, Lebanon and Jordan.


ghostwhowalksnz June 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm

Exactly. If the locals are doing the fighting against their government, logistical and intel help done covertly goes a very long way.
My guess is that it will be quicker than Libya because of the more compact geography , bigger population and Alawites minority status


Rob June 29, 2012 at 4:08 pm

SIGINIT and cruise missiles is all you need to make the S300/S400 obsolete. Suggesting the use of HARMs in a risky air defense environment like that is a bit premature. The US is not going to risk any aircraft until they know the threat is neutralized. And those anti-air missiles and the systems that go with them aren't exactly easy to hide.


ghostwhowalksnz June 29, 2012 at 7:12 pm

Cruise missiles arent any good against a mobile target, they knew that in the first Gulf war when they had to have boots on ground to locate mobile Scud batteries- plus the battery could move to different street corner or olive grove in small towns and villages


blight_ June 29, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Back in the GW1 days the NRO collected intelligence (we didn't have Preds), it passed through analysts and then ended up at the Pentagon which eventually gave it to Norman who passed it down to the relevant commanders. By then it was unactionable.

By now, the latency between target-acquired-by-UAV and missiles away should hopefully be shorter. Sure, it's shorter if you put boots on the ground, but that's a lot of teams out there that could get cut off and killed with a dubious success rate.
Send in a bait decoy Firebee, light up SAM site, fire HARM, eat cake.


orly? July 1, 2012 at 9:17 am

Yup, HARMs are a good answer.

Then follow up with other bombardment, what a concept lol.


blight_ July 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Tomahawks might be actionable if coupled with a UAV: the only problem being the flight time. Tomahawks were designed to penetrate Soviet airspace and strike deep into the heartland against emplaced targets, not mobile ones. So low altitude, concealability with TERCOM and very long range.

Not necessary optimal for striking fleeting or semi-fleeting targets. However, if you get the drop on a TEL/TELAR/TLAR site and aren't detected by a UAV, you might have a shot. Then the newer blocks of Tomahawk can be redirected on the fly, so…

Stratege July 3, 2012 at 1:30 am

The "Gezetchik-E" (Anti-HARM decoys system) is claimed to achieve a 0.85-0.95 Pk ("Probability of Kill") against anti-radiation missiles such as HARM.

Rob June 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Technology stopped progressing since 1991?


ghostwhowalksnz June 30, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Good point, and finding OBL was easier because of technology ?
Cruise missiles still remain the best option for fixed sites. Technology will help you pinpoint a mobile target -if you have real time recon and can pass the coords onto strike assets- much much harder when the Sam batteries will target your recon assets, even outdated Sams will easily take out all your drones


orly? July 1, 2012 at 9:19 am

You need to research what a HARM is…

STemplar July 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm

But do I need to hit a SAM battery to remove it effectively? Seems to me if I keep them on the run worried about incoming TLAMs that's the same thing as blowing it up as operationally it isn't part of the equation.


Stratege June 30, 2012 at 4:18 am

How SIGINIT would help?
The cruise missile is pretty old tech and air defense systems were designed to deal with it. Even the SA-3 (S-125) has capability to shoot down cruise missiles. Not to mention S-300, and modern day SA-22 and S-400,
But S-300′s missiles are too much expensive to protect against cruise missiles… Thats why “tiny” SAM SA-22 / Pantsyr -S1 SAM there with its relatively cheap missiles/ammo, jamproof target acquisition/tracking radars, FCS with radio-commands guidance + passive guidance with electro-optical channel, and ability to fire while on the move. It’s really what is needed to protect long range SAMs against aerial attacks with high-precision air-to-surface weapons.
HARM is the typical target for Pantsyr, not to mention the special-purpose Anti-ARM systems with decoys/countermeasures such as “Gazetchik-E” (which Syria may have received from Russia).


Rob June 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

"How SIGINIT would help?"



Stratege July 1, 2012 at 3:13 am

Well, please explain what magic SIGINIT has to make intergrated air defense obsolete.


orly? July 1, 2012 at 9:20 am

Still cannot properly defend against "saturation" attacks.


Dan June 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm

It is far cheaper to just bribe some underpaid Russian programmer for a back door that will make the radar say whatever you want it to. "Run for your life, you fool" in Arabic comes immediately to mind.


yanshuf June 30, 2012 at 2:10 am

How do ya know the Russkies don't already ave a back door built in for special occasions? ;-)


Jacob June 29, 2012 at 8:52 pm

The S-3 has been around since the 1980's. If the USAF doesn't have a way of dealing with it yet then something is very wrong.


blight_ June 29, 2012 at 9:10 pm

SA-3's took out a F-16 in GW1, an F-16 and a F-117 in Serbia. However, I don't have immediate access to how many missiles were actually fired to bring about those losses. However, it suggests that the missiles remain capable of doing their jobs, even if they are old.


Yanshuf June 30, 2012 at 2:24 am

The IDF has flown against the S-300 in a full scale simulation of an attack on Iran.
Greece contributed the radar. You better bet that Israelis were crawling over the S-300 as the IAF was flying around.


Stratege June 30, 2012 at 4:32 am

Thats strictly depends on what S-300 version Greece have used in simulation. There a lot of differencess between S-300′s type (varied with versions from “P” and “V” family) and its generation.


blight_ June 30, 2012 at 9:31 am

From evil wikipedia, which cites Balkan Defense Overview: http://www.balkanalysis.com/blog/2005/12/11/balka

"Cyprus signed an agreement to buy S-300 systems in 1996. Eventually buying the S-300PMU-1 version, however due to political tension between Cyprus and Turkey and intense Turkish pressure[...], the system was instead transferred to the Greek Island of Crete. Later, Cyprus acquired Tor-M1 and Buk-M1 systems. Finally, on 19/12/07 the missiles were officially transferred to the Greek government in return for further Tor-M1 and Buk-M1 systems."


Yanshuf June 30, 2012 at 11:59 am

@stratege your absolutely correct

Thanks for the info. I beleive we can rest assured that both the Tur and Buk systems have been completely evaluated by Israel and the US.


blight_ June 30, 2012 at 12:09 pm


"Chief of Hellenic Air Force, Lt. General V.Klokozas will visit Russia from 1 to 7 July for talks on various matters. During his visit he will be attending presentations of fighter aircraft and air defense systems.

According to existing information the visit will address the critical issue of S-300PMU1 support. It will also include more information on the improved S-400 system which serves the Russian Air Force and is among the candidates for the new Greek long range air defense system program."

Though considering the "debt crisis" I wonder if procurement is on hold.
Edit: Older link

About Greece and their S-300.

LEP July 2, 2012 at 1:38 pm

The joint Israeli Defense Force – Aerospace Force (IDF-AF) and the Hellenic Air Force (HAF) joint exercise "Glorious Spartan 2008" around the Greek island of Crete did NOT involve the HAF S-300 PMU1 radars or missile batteries.


blight_ June 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Speaking of Turks and the RF-4's, some old news:


Mitch July 2, 2012 at 12:37 am

How good is Syria's air defenses compared to Iraq's air defenses during the 1st Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom?


Valentino July 25, 2012 at 7:18 pm

As for modern SAM systems now Syria has only:

- 200 SA-24 MANPADS
- 12 SA-22 systems
- four SA-17 batteries
- four SA-3 batteries were modernized by Russians to more mobile Pechora-2M standard

That's basically all. Remaining Syrian anti-aircraft stuff is very old Soviet era crap smashed by IAF thirty years ago in the Bekaa Valley.


Gajver August 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

You forget Russians air forces. 30 SU37 are ready to go from an air carrier there. Who can give guarantees that they will not involve if us attack Syria.


DarylGrimes22 November 6, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Though I'm not that positive on how their defense system is like, I'm sure that they took time in straightening their air monitoring movement. This will be an important part of their defense, because a lot of their enemy attack may come from above.


blight_ November 6, 2012 at 1:12 pm

The Syrians should focus on SEAD capability, especially as foreigners try to funnel MANPADS and perhaps defecting military units bring some ZSUs into the Free Syrian Army.

Pull a Serbia and start putting up decoy systems and practice frequent displacement…you never know when foreign intervention with airpower will begin.


Gazzoo May 13, 2013 at 5:06 am

This scenario assumes Syria would remain on the defense. It has tens of thousands of missiles it can lob onto USA bases and Israeli occupation forces in the Golan Heights.


patrick June 15, 2013 at 8:55 am

america are war mongers and support terrorism world wide….keep out of syria and iran …..when a bomb goes off in america …more than likely C.I.A you cry about it but give no thought to bombing innocent women and children in other countries…what you sow …so shall you reap


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blight_ June 28, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Missile not as important as the radar systems that came with it.

For targeting radar, is it Flap Lid, Grill Pan or Top Dome?

From http://geimint.blogspot.com/2007/08/us-restricted

We have a Flap Lid at Tonopah. Or we might have one. Which one, who knows?

For surveillance radars, there's a whole bunch of options.


blight_ June 28, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Already done in Vietnam and GW1. I imagine such capability is still in place.


sgorsky June 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm

We can track each of your plane leaving from and comming to Aviano airbase and destroy it in a radius of 500 km as to the decoys rockets – it will trigger other kind of response… that you would not like it to see. Sorry, you will be disappointed with Russia.


STemplar June 29, 2012 at 2:57 am



majr0d June 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm

Funny, we heard the same kind of boasting before Desert Storm and in Bosnia.


STemplar June 29, 2012 at 2:55 am

Sure thing, Baghdad bob.


orly? July 1, 2012 at 9:10 am

Should NATO be wary of Syrian AA? Yes
Should we be afraid? No


ghostwhowalksnz June 29, 2012 at 6:46 pm

plus they are mobile. Job one is too find them, exact location will change every few hours


blight_ June 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm

They're truck mobile, but they're totally offline in the interim. You would need many more systems to compensate for however many launchers and radars are on the move. Each radar taken down needs to be swiftly replaced by another radar in a different location. Each launcher must be offset by another launcher going online.

Unless you propose 2x the systems so that half the missile system can move while the other half is on overwatch, some portion of the missile defense system is static, and will be for some time. What do you think constant location/relocation does to personnel readiness?

It's cheaper to use camouflauge and conceal, then pop out at the last minute to hit your quarry. It worked for the Serbs. You can't conceal a bunch of trucks on road march…or at least it's much harder to.


Stratege June 30, 2012 at 6:35 am

Modern integrated air defense system is able to distinguish decoys from the real targets:
- Real targets would make maneuvers after being warned about detection by surface radar which working in fire mode. MALD decoy has limited maneuverability, so it could be distinguished from highly manoeuvrable attacking aircraft by enemy radar.
- MALD, considering its small dimensions and weight, will likely not be able to fully imitate signature of the fighter jet (bomber, tanker etc.) especially when it comes to deployment against the integrated air defense with radar assets working in various bands.
While the tactics based on the MALD deployment can be used with certain efficiency, it’s not the absolute winning strategy to deal with more or less serious air defense.


STemplar June 30, 2012 at 2:26 pm

It isn't just a decoy, it's a jammer.


Stratege July 1, 2012 at 4:40 am

Yes, but modern SAMs are more or less jam-resisant.
But sure, any Vietnam war era Soviet air defense has no chance


orly? July 1, 2012 at 9:22 am

For a guy from Austrailia, you have a poor sense of logic.


blight_ July 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm

The fun question is how modern is modern enough to be jam-resistant? The Syrians might not have the cheapest export-grade target radar/surveillance radar/terminal guidance system on hand.

The questions worth asking are "what radars did the Russians give them", in addition to the "which missiles are on TELs during the military parades?"

After all, the Russians might not take too kindly to risking advanced radar so close to western countries, and possibly losing the crown jewels of their air defense to espionage or theft.


STemplar July 1, 2012 at 4:18 pm

What? The MALD-J hasn't even been deployed and for some reason I doubt we would if what we intended to use it against was resistant to it. Put some facts up to support that or that last comment is hot air.


blight_ July 1, 2012 at 8:04 pm

I suppose the next possibility is designing UAV penetrators that enter airspace, assess radar signatures to determine if they are being locked onto by a surveillance/tracking radar, then dump ARMs where appropriate.

Simply adopt the profile of aircraft flying at the enemy's centers of gravity. They will light up to defend what's most important to them…


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