Five Things You Should Know About Syria And Russia’s S-300 Missile System.
Russia’s S-300 missile system could dramatically change the stakes in the Syrian conflict if it is sent to Damascus, which Russia has signed a contract to do. RFE/RL lays out five things to know about the air-defense system.
What are the capabilities of the S-300 system?
The S-300 missile system is designed to shoot down aircraft and missiles at a range of 5-to-150 kilometers. That gives it the ability to destroy not only attackers in Syrian airspace but also any attackers inside Israel.
It can track and strike multiple targets simultaneously at altitudes ranging from 10 meters to 27,000 meters.
“The S-300 is Russia’s top-of-the-range air-defense system,” says Robert Hewson, the London-based editor of “IHS Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons.” “It is a surface-to-air missile system that’s capable of shooting down any modern combat aircraft or missiles, including cruise missiles. In a way, it is the Russian equivalent to the U.S. Patriot system. And what it does for Syria is it adds a whole new level of capability on top of the existing Syrian air defenses. Syria already has a lot of Russian [surface-to-air] missiles, but the S-300 would be the most advanced.”
How much would a deployed S-300 system complicate a decision by the international community to create no-fly zones in Syria?
The deployment of the S-300 system would greatly complicate any such measures in Syria.
It would similarly complicate Israel’s policy of striking targets in Syria to prevent transfers of sophisticated weapons from Damascus to the Lebanese Hizballah, Israel’s sworn enemy.
NATO used no-fly zones in 2011 to end the conflict in Libya. The zones protected civilians and allowed allied planes to destroy Libyan government units who were using force against populated areas.