Can Russian S-300s Down Hostile Stealth Warplanes?
It’s a mute point unless and until tested in battle. With Israel vowing to continue terror-bombing Syrian targets, the answer will likely be forthcoming.
If US-made F-22s and F-35s can be detected in fight and downed, they’ll no longer be able to operate in Syrian airspace unhindered.
Russia is mainly concerned about protecting the safety of its personnel in Syria. Measures its Defense Ministry took intend guaranteeing it.
S-300 launchers and related military equipment supplied to Syria can only protect a portion of the country’s airspace, more of it by Russian-installed S-400s and related air defense systems.
It’s unclear what type S-300s were installed for Syrian military use. According to the Saker, older models dating from the late 1970s are far less effective than newer ones, adding:
“(T)he newest…S-300s are very close in capabilities to the S-400 system and thus rank among the most capable air defense systems ever built.”
If needed, Russia will likely supply Syria with more launchers and related military equipment.
For now, its military likely only has the capability to protect a few strategic areas once the systems are fully operational. Russian personnel will likely man them along with Syrians, at least initially.
It’s also unknown what type and numbers of Russian electronic warfare systems are being installed. For the first time, an Israeli adversary will have this capability the IDF never had to contend with before.
The same goes for US-led NATO in waging war against Syria or other nations with this type air defense capability. Syria will be better protected than earlier. Whether it’s a game-changing difference remains to be seen.
According to military analyst Sergey Sudakov, the US and Israel no doubt will want to test the stealth effectiveness of their warplanes, saying:
Their strategy may involve deploying one or more stealth warplanes to carry out airstrikes against Syrian targets. If successful, escalated attacks could follow. If not, it’s back to the drawing board.
Even if ground-based radar systems don’t detect these planes, they’ll “make (their) presence known as soon as (they activate their) on-board radio-electronic suppression system.”
“Once that happens, ground-based control systems will be able to localize the radiation source, subsequently pointing to the aircraft’s location…an anti-aircraft missile (then launched) to chase after it.”
Military analyst Mikhail Khodaryonok believes stealth warplane invisibility to S-300s “is a huge exaggeration.” Claims otherwise are “empty talk.”
As long as Russian personnel are involved in operating S-300s supplied to Syria’s military, US-led NATO and Israel surely won’t try to destroy them – likely targeting them only if Russian personnel can’t be harmed.
Moscow earlier said it will retaliate against attacks on its personnel. The US and Israel aren’t likely to test this warning.
They’re also wary about testing whether their stealth warplanes can be undetected by Syrian operated S-300s and electronic warfare capability, including Russia’s friend/foe ID system.
If Russian S-300s supplied to Syria can detect and down one or more US-led NATO or Israeli stealth warplanes, “the US military-industrial complex (will) suffer enormous reputational damage,” said military analyst Andrey Kotz.
It could also be a battlefield game-changer – in Syria and elsewhere, wherever these systems are installed.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."