Russia may “soon” deliver S-300PMU-2 ‘Favorite’ missile defense systems to Syria, the Russian newspaper Kommersant reported on April 23 citing two military diplomatic sources.
According to the newspaper’s sources, the air defense systems deliveries will be made free of charge. The reported goal of the effort is to assist the Syrian military in establishing a multi-layered air defense across the country.
The S-300PMU-2 ‘Favorite’ is an export version of the Russian S-300 missile defense system. It has the range of 195 km and uses the 48N6E2 missile. This missile can be used against aircraft, cruise missiles, UAVs, theater ballistic missiles even against intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The S-300PMU-2 systems will integrated into this multi-layered air defense to provide additional defense to Damascus and the country’s airfields from missile strikes. The quoted sources said that the S-300 deliveries are mostly a “political” decision and it’s almost made.
The Russian military has already established own air-defense net in the country in order to protect Russian military facilities. These air defenses have not been officially engaged in repelling any strikes on the Syrian military. However, according to local and official sources, the Russian military is actively involved in training and advising Syrian air defense troops as well as providing assistance to modernize the country’s air defense capabilities.
However, it’s important to note that there has been no official confirmation of the possible deliviries from the Kremlin.
Damascus and Moscow reached an agreement on the S-300 air defense systems deliveries in 2010. However, the deliveries were frozen because of a complicated political and security situation in the region.
Then, Israel was one of the key critics of the deal.
Following the April 14 missile strike on Syria by the US, the UK and France, Russia officially declared that it had returned to an idea of S-300 deliveries to Syria.
Such a move, if it’s implemented, will likely face a strong and maybe even military reaction from Israel and its key ally, the US. Tel Aviv sees the strengthening power of the Syrian military as a direct threat to its regional military and political strategy. Israeli experts have repeatedly voiced concern over the icnreased efficiency of the Syrian Air Defense Forces. These concerns have become specially loud after the Israeli Air Force lost a F-16I fighter jet during the operation against Syria on February 10, 2018.