S-300 missile system: Russia upgrades Syrian air defences (2024)

  • Published

S-300 missile system: Russia upgrades Syrian air defences (1)Image source, EPA

Russia says it has delivered new anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, two weeks after a Russian reconnaissance aircraft was shot down in the country.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said four S-300s launchers had arrived in Syria on Monday.

Fifteen Russian servicemen died when their Il-20 plane was accidentally downed by Syrian forces during an Israeli air strike in Latakia province.

Russia blamed Israel for the incident - a charge denied by Israel.

Israel, which insists Syria's military was to blame, has warned that giving the S-300 to "irresponsible actors" would make the highly volatile region even more dangerous.

US national security adviser John Bolton had said Russia's decision to deliver the S-300s would cause a "significant escalation" in Syria's civil war and had urged Moscow to reconsider.

Russia has an airbase in Syria from which it carries out air strikes in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

What did the Russian defence minister say?

At a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Shoigu said: "We have completed the delivery of the S-300s systems."

He said that 49 pieces of equipment had arrived in Syria, including four launchers, locators and control vehicles.

Image source, Getty Images

Syria's unified air defence control system would be fully operational by 20 October, the minister added.

The delivery of the S-300 system had been suspended in 2013 following a request from Israel.

But after the loss of the Russian plane, Mr Shoigu said: "The situation has changed. And it's not our fault."

How was the Russian plane shot down?

The Il-20 was hit about 35km (22 miles) from the Syrian coast as it was returning to Russia's Hmeimim airbase near the north-western city of Latakia.

Russia's news agencies said at the time that the plane had "disappeared during an attack by four Israeli F-16 jets on Syrian facilities".

Russia's defence ministry later said that Israeli jets had used the Il-20 as cover.

It said Israel had failed to give it adequate notice of the attack, putting the Russian aircraft in the path of Syrian air defence systems.

Mr Putin told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by telephone that the decision to strengthen Syria's air defences was "primarily intended to thwart any potential threat to the lives of the Russian military service members", external, the Kremlin said.

How did Israel respond?

Mr Netanyahu warned Mr Putin that "providing advanced weapons systems to irresponsible actors will magnify dangers in the region", according to the prime minister's office.

He also said Israel was "determined to stop Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and the attempts by Iran, which calls for the destruction of Israel, to transfer to Hezbollah lethal weaponry [to be used] against Israel".

Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia Muslim militant group, and Iran are both allies of the Syrian government.

Mr Netanyahu also expressed his confidence in the credibility of the Israeli military's account of the circ*mstances surrounding the downing of the Russian reconnaissance plane.

Israel's military insisted that its jets were back in Israeli airspace by the time the Il-20 was hit and said responsibility for the incident lay with the Syrian military.

Could the S-300 prove a game-changer?

Israel says it has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria over the past 18 months.

In that time, only one Israeli jet is known to have been shot down - an F-16 which crashed in northern Israel.

Israel has long sought to persuade Russia not to supply Syria with the S-300.

While it is not Russia's most advanced surface-to-air missile system, it has been likened by experts to the US Patriot Air and Missile Defense System.

S-300PMU system specification

  • Specification: Each launcher vehicle carries four missile containers (two missiles per target). A full battalion includes six launcher vehicles with a total of 24 missiles, plus command-and-control and long-range radar detection vehicles

  • Special feature: Fires two missiles vertically within three seconds, making it versatile and accurate

  • Capability: Russian 48N6E are the standard missiles fired from S-300PMU launchers. They have a range of 5-150km (3-93 miles) at a maximum altitude of 27-30km (17-19 miles).

  • Response time: Vehicle stopping to missile firing is five minutes

Source: Royal United Services Institute

More on this story

  • Russian plane downed in Syria: What may happen next?

    • Published

      18 September 2018

  • Leaders ease tension over Russian deaths

    • Published

      18 September 2018

  • Russia blames Israel after plane shot down

    • Published

      18 September 2018

  • Syria country profile

    • Published

      19 April 2023

  • Why has the Syrian war lasted 12 years?

    • Published

      2 May 2023

  • Russia thwarts drone attack on Syria base

    • Published

      7 January 2018

  • Russia and Turkey to create Syria buffer

    • Published

      17 September 2018

  • Russia's military role in Syria grows

    • Published

      23 August 2018

  • A tour of Syria - with the Russian military. Video, 00:02:09A tour of Syria - with the Russian military

    • Published

      16 August 2018


S-300 missile system: Russia upgrades Syrian air defences (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Nathanial Hackett

Last Updated:

Views: 5499

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 87% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Nathanial Hackett

Birthday: 1997-10-09

Address: Apt. 935 264 Abshire Canyon, South Nerissachester, NM 01800

Phone: +9752624861224

Job: Forward Technology Assistant

Hobby: Listening to music, Shopping, Vacation, Baton twirling, Flower arranging, Blacksmithing, Do it yourself

Introduction: My name is Nathanial Hackett, I am a lovely, curious, smiling, lively, thoughtful, courageous, lively person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.