Russia has completed the delivery of advanced S-300 air defense systems to Syria, Sputnik News reported citing Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
The Defense Minister said that the work on installing a unified air defense control system in Syria will be finalized by October 20 and that Russian experts would teach Syrian personnel to operate S-300 air defense systems within three months.
“As for the unified air defense control system, we have started to deliver the equipment and will fully complete all work on preparation and training of the crews, creation of a single network by October 20,” Shoigu said.
The minister added that Russia had delivered a total of 49 units of military equipment to Syria within the framework of the supplies of S-300 air defense systems aimed at boosting the security of the Russian military personnel in the war-torn country.
The system, to be operated by the Syrian Air Defense Force, was reportedly transported from Russia to the Hmeimim Air Base in Latakia, Syria on board a Russian Air Force An-124-100 heavy airlifter.
Shoigu had announced two weeks back that his country will deliver advanced S-300 air defense missile system to the Syrian Armed Forces within two weeks. It is to be also noted that Russia already has its own S-300 air defense system in Syria, along with the more advanced S-400 system.
“A modern S-300 air defense missile system will be transferred to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks,” he said at that time. The system will “significantly increase the Syrian army’s combat capabilities,” he added.
The decision to deliver the air defense system to Syria came a week after Moscow blamed Israel for indirectly causing the downing of a Russian military plane in Syria.
Last month, a Russian Air Force Il-20 surveillance aircraft was downed by an S-200 surface-to-air missile (SAM) operated by the Syrian Air Defense Force (SyADF), when it was returning to the Khmeimim airbase in Syria. The crash killed 15 Russian service members. Russia claimed that Israeli pilots conducting airstrikes in Latakia, Syria used the Il-20 as a cover which resulted in the downing of the Russian aircraft.
“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” said the MoD statement released after the incident.
Israel has denied the accusations and blamed Syria for the downing of the aircraft.
S-300 (NATO reporting name SA-10 Grumble) is a Russian long range surface-to-air (SAM) missile systems produced by NPO Almaz. The S-300 is regarded as one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems currently fielded by any country.
The S-300 system was developed to defend against aircraft and cruise missiles for the Soviet Air Defence Forces. Subsequent variations were developed to intercept ballistic missiles. The system is fully automated, though manual observation and operation are also possible.
The system was first deployed by the Soviet Union in 1979, designed for the air defence of large industrial and administrative facilities, military bases and control of airspace against enemy strike aircraft.
An evolved version of the S-300 system is the S-400 (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler), which entered service in 2004.