Cold War Part 2
Russia determined to deliver S-300s, MiGs to Syria
Russia denies it has already delivered anti-aircraft system to Syria, but confirms it will do so, although without specific date • Kremlin will also deliver 10 MiG-29 warplanes to Syria • Russian general: Syria needs 10-12 S-300 divisions to protect its airspace.
Though Russia has denied Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s reported announcement that he has already received the first shipment of the vaunted S-300 anti-aircraft missile system, the Kremlin stated on Friday that it could deliver the S-300 system to Syria “in accordance with contract no earlier than the autumn,” the Russian Interfax news agency reported. Interfax said that 10 Russian MiG-29 combat airplanes would also be delivered to Syria “in accordance with contract.”
According to Russian experts quoted by the Kommersant newspaper, after the weapons systems are shipped and tested, and their local operators trained, Assad could have fully operable S-300 systems by spring 2014.
The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar published excerpts from an interview Assad gave to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV station in which he claimed that Syria had already received the S-300 Russian anti-missile missile system. That Assad does not yet have the advanced surface-to-air missiles from Russia despite the Al-Akhbar report was confirmed by two senior U.S. officials privy to sensitive intelligence matters, Fox News reported.
Citing a senior defense source, Vedomosti business newspaper reported that the S-300 had not been delivered yet, but that Russia would go through with the delivery of four missile systems under a contract signed with Syria in 2010.
Interfax quoted a Russian general as saying that Syria needs 10 to 12 S-300 divisions to protect its airspace. RIA Novosti reported that shipping the S-300 from Saint Petersburg to the Syrian port of Tartus takes about two weeks. Novosti reported that recently several Russian ships carrying military cargo to Syria were stopped by Finland and denied entry to European ports after the ships’ insurance licenses were revoked.
The S-300 can launch six missiles at once, each capable of destroying aircraft flying at several times the maximum speed of the F-16 and F-22 fighter jets, the staples of the Israeli and U.S. air forces, respectively, as well as intercepting ballistic targets.
Adding to the confusion on the weapons system, which Israel has vowed not to allow to become operational on Syrian soil, the Kommersant newspaper reported on Friday that a source close to the issue said that the transfer of S-300 missile batteries would be carried out only by the second quarter of 2014. The source said it would take at least another six months to train Syrian personnel and test the machines.
But Gen. Anatoly Kornukov, a former Russian Air Force commander, told Interfax-AVN on Friday that training Syrian specialists to operate Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile systems would take no more than a month.
“Certainly, our specialists will have to train Syrian colleagues if they receive such systems. But everything will depend on the diligence of those trained. But the most minimal period of training is half of a month or a month,” he said.
Asked how long it would take to deploy S-300 systems after they arrive in Syria, Kornukov told Interfax that “everything will depend on the site where these systems should be placed.”
“Reaching the site will take some time, but the deployment itself will require no more than a couple of hours. I am giving you a longer period because the systems could require additional adjustments after transportation and loading,” he said. “But in an ordinary situation, our systems can be deployed within five minutes.”
Meanwhile, Moscow is trying to persuade Tehran to withdraw its lawsuit against Russia’s state-run arms export company Rosoboronexport over a canceled deal to supply S-300 air defense systems to Iran, Russian Technologies (Rostech) CEO Sergei Chemezov told RIA Novosti on Friday. The $800 million contract to supply Iran with the missile system was signed at the end of 2007. Moscow was to supply five S-300 PMU-1 battalions to Tehran.
However, on Sept. 22, 2010, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree canceling the contract in line with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, which bans supply to Iran of conventional weapons including missiles and missile systems, tanks, attack helicopters, warplanes and ships.
Kommersant reported that whatever S-300 leftovers there were from the scrapped deal with Iran were long ago snatched up by other customers such as Algeria, according to Ruslan Pukhov of the Center for Analysis of Strategy and Technologies, a for-profit research group in Moscow. This means the systems would need to be produced and test launches conducted, a job that would take about a year, Pukhov said.
Furthermore, dozens or even hundreds of staff would have to be trained to operate the complicated machinery, which should take about six months. According to Kommersant, this would push Assad’s most optimistic deadline of owning fully operable S-300 complexes to November at best, with spring 2014 being a more realistic estimate.
We are entering dangerous ground that is deja vue, going back to the bad old days of the cold war.
I don’t think Assad would do something stupid like using the S-300 missiles, or the MiGs against Israeli aircraft either civilian or military.
The problem is Israel needs Assad to win, but how do we get to this without giving him weapons that in time might be used against Israel.
America and the EU have lost their minds by supporting the terrorist, no wait I mean rebels.