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S-400 antiaircraft missile system to defend Russia’s air group in Syria

November 27, 2015, 19:11 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
©  Russian Defense Ministry's Press and Information Department/TASS

MOSCOW, November 27. /TASS/. The S-400 (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) air defense missile systems that Russia has moved to its airbase near Latakia in Syria after Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber will help keep most of Syrian airspace under control and will be a sword of Damocles over the heads of potential aggressors, experts say.

Any incidental encounters with the aircraft of the US-led coalition in Syria are hardly possible thanks to modern military hardware, the experts say.

Along with the Fort air defense missile systems aboard the missile cruiser Moskva already in Syrian waters, the S-400 systems will ensure the safety of the Russian air group’s flights and will destroy any targets posing a threat to it. Also, Russian aircraft and helicopters on a combat mission will be accompanied by fighter jets for combat cover and also by aerial electronic warfare systems.

The Pentagon has voiced fears that the Russian S-400 air defense missile systems may complicate the situation in the sky over Syria and has said it expects that these complexes won’t be aimed against the US-led coalition.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said he was surprised over the US reaction.

"We were confident until Tuesday that our planes destroying Islamic State facilities were guaranteed against attacks from the so-called US-led anti-IS coalition," he said.

"Now all the northern provinces in Syria bordering on Turkey, as well as the north-eastern provinces bordering on Iraq are tracked by our [S-400] system and targets can be hit at a depth of up to 300 km," military expert and editor-in-chief of the Arsenal of the Fatherland journal Viktor Murakhovsky told TASS.

"Therefore, as it turns out, with the deployment of the S-400 at the Khmeimim airbase, the territory of Turkey is visible within the distance of about 350-400 km while fire can be delivered at a distance of about 200-250 km in depth," the military expert said.

"Turkey has itself created such a situation that now its plane may be shot down if it enters the Syrian airspace even for a second. Now the [S-400] system will track all Turkish warplanes approaching the border. The S-400 is a sword of Damocles that will hang over the heads of potential intruders," he added.

As for the US indignation, the expert noted that the United States had signed a memorandum with Russia on preventing air incidents.

"The S-400 will not create big problems for the US-led coalition," Deputy Director of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Maxim Shepovalenko told TASS. "All the rest depends on them. If they behave badly and obstruct our aircraft, they will be let known about that. But we’ll hardly enter into direct confrontation with them."

In principle, no one is guaranteed against incidents, he added. "But modern identification and detection systems exclude such things. There can be no incidental occurrences there. The statements that the Turks did not know that this was the Russian plane and confused it with a Syrian aircraft is child’s talk and does not stand up to criticism," the military expert said.

The electronic warfare system will now be used in the first place, the expert said. "Until now, we refrained from this because we hoped for understanding from the so-called partners," he noted.

‘As for electronic warfare and air defense systems, it can be said that we’re among the best in the world," the military expert said.

Regional Security Sector Head at the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies Igor Nikolaichuk believes that the S-400 will play the role of a deterrence factor as the newest system of Russia’s strategic echelon: "Don’t step in and don’t try to shoot down our planes."

"The Americans’ fears are completely unfounded and are only an element of political pressure," the expert told TASS.

"Modern technical capabilities and specialists’ qualification give a possibility actually to exclude an incidental downing of planes," the military expert said.

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