The incident with the downed Russian Il-20 aircraft off the coast of Syria gave rise to many questions. One of them is what Russia will do to prevent such situations in the future. In fact, there are not so many options, experts believe.
In Israel itself, most media in the first hours after the tragedy wrote that the Russian military, most likely, will try to protect the Syrian sky from the aircraft of the IDF. True, no one really tried to explain how this will happen. Whether Russia refuses from the agreement on cooperation with the Israeli Air Force that has been in effect for almost three years, or whether the problem will be solved through the Syrians. In regard to the latter in Tel Aviv, they feared in earnest, because this scenario envisages the S-300 deliveries to the Syrian Arab Army.
This plan was previously discussed, and the Russian leadership even managed to announce the transfer of these anti-aircraft missile systems on a gratuitous basis. But Israel intervened and, arguing that for him this deal was a great danger, promised to do everything to ensure that the deployment of the S-300, even if they were delivered to the Arab Republic, did not take place. And these threats were enough for Moscow to abandon the idea. Now everything has changed, because, because of the activity of the IDF, not Syrian objects were injured, but Russian aircraft.
Well, the fears of Israel are not in vain, but so far they have missed the forecasts. Russia really intends to restrict the freedom of action of Israeli aircraft in the Syrian and near-Ssyrian sky, only otherwise – covering the entire coastal area of Syria, and creating a temporary no-fly zone around almost the whole of Cyprus. In any case, the Cypriot and Israeli media write about this. It is noted that this is a temporary measure, but both the Cypriots and Israelis have concerns about the duration of these measures.
Quite unusual scenario of events. Obviously, by such steps Russia reacts to the actions of Israel and tries to limit its ability to strike in Syria, but these are not exhaustive measures. South Syria is still weakly protected: the IDF does not need the sea to attack it. By the way, a large number of Iranian facilities are located there. But this is a separate issue, in this case it is interesting how justified such a measure and whether Russia is able to close such a large part of the airspace.
Russian military expert Alexei Leonkov believes that we have enough resources to control all airspace, both off the coast of Syria and along the border of Cyprus.
– This, of course, remains at the discretion of the Russian leadership, and it will decide the appropriateness of such actions, but if necessary, it will be possible to achieve this. First, it is more practical to close the designated zone after all from the land, from the coast. For this purpose, anti-aircraft missile systems such as the S-400 are intended. We have them in Syria. The advantages of land-based systems are that they do not need a constant return to the shore for shells. Their provision and maintenance is much more convenient. In addition, they have a very large range of action. In fact, they can hit targets at a distance of almost half a thousand kilometers.
In occasion of ship systems, then those are also available. For example, some of our vessels are equipped with Tor-M2KM systems, by the way, its land version of Tor-M2 is also present in the SAR. These complexes operate at much shorter distances and refer to medium-range systems. They can hit targets at a distance of up to 40 kilometers, but their important advantage is that they can hit missiles and any other targets that move above the surface of the water, that is, they can almost any height on the shoulder. Of course, with the assistance of radars and EW systems, this will be practically sufficient for the indicated purposes.
But if the creation of a no-fly zone is planned for a long time, then the question arises about the transfer of additional equipment to Syria, because our military arrived there to perform several other tasks, and, of course, many resources are involved in conducting military operations against terrorists.
Another Russian military expert, who asked not to be named, takes a slightly different view. In his view, Russia now has insufficient resources in Syria to implement such a large-scale plan.
- From distant missile systems, we have S-400 complexes there based on
Khmeimim. They are able to recognize the target at a distance of 450 kilometers, so they can knock it off somewhere in the distance of 350-400 kilometers. There is also a complex S-300V4. About the ships. There is now “Marshal Ustinov”, a missile cruiser. It has a naval version of the S-300 system. It is also very reliable, and it is not obsolete at all, although many believe that this is the technique of yesterday. Maybe this is so, but she too is able to hit targets at a distance of several hundred kilometers. We also have small missile ships there, but it’s not worth talking about, because they have short-range complexes, and this is not good for such a task. In general, it turns out that there is a S-400 based on Khmeimim, well still “Pantsiri”, but these are short-range weapons, and the S-300B4 and S-300 on the “Marshal Ustinov”. For “Tor” I do not say so, it’s a little different, they are more intended for the protection of specific stationary objects, and even the range of the latest modifications does not exceed 40-50 kilometers. This is a good technique, but at the moment it is not enough for us in Syria – to create a no-fly zone there must be a corresponding density. We only have a C-400 division. This four, a maximum of six launchers, well, and “Pantsiri”, which combine with them. And the S-300 stand only on the “Marshal Ustinov”. This is very little, in any case, in order to exercise steady control over a vast territory. There is no way to punish the perpetrators of the death of 15 of our officers. Besides, I am sure that no one will create this no-fly zone. Firstly, it is technically difficult, albeit possible, but politically it is an unreasonable step. I think they can decide to work on media. In addition, it is one thing to shoot down a missile or drones, but the airplane with the pilot is absolutely different. Yes, we can close the airspace for a while to some area, but we do not need to close it permanently, it’s very expensive and in general However, activity in this direction can significantly affect the desire of Israel or other forces to make combat sorties.