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Assad. Preparing for war? Photo: Reuters
Assad. Preparing for war? Photo: Reuters
 
 

IDF: Syria's antiaircraft system most advanced in world

Israeli military source says that after studying IAF's performance during Second Lebanon War, Damacus has purchased most advanced ground-to-air missiles from Russia. IDF fears Assad's arms race may be sign of possible conflict with Israel

Alex Fishman
Published: 08.13.07, 09:38 / Israel News

Syria possesses the most crowded antiaircraft system in the world following its continued purchase of Russian weapon systems, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday, quoting a senior Israeli military source.

 

According to one estimate, the Syrians hold more than 200 antiaircraft batteries of different types.

 

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In a bid to respond to the Israel Air Force's supremacy, Damascus has been exerting great efforts in the past few years to improve its ability in terms of ground-to-ground and ground-to-air missiles.

 

According to the military source, as part of these efforts the Syrians have purchased the most advanced ground-to-air missiles from the Russians, considered the cutting edge in aircraft interception technology.

 

Some of these missiles were snatched from the production lines even before being introduced into Russian operation service.

 

Damascus' race to purchase antiaircraft weapons is one of the prominent characteristics in the Syrians' preparations for a possible conflict with Israel.

 

According to the military source, Syria studied the IAF's performance during the Second Lebanon War and has since invested great sums of money in antiaircraft systems, particularly in systems for the defense of strategic sites.

 

The Institute for National Security Studies recently issued a memo on the strengthening of the Syrian army. In the chapter dealing with air defense, researcher Yiftah Shapir writes that the antiaircraft deals between Syria and Russia include the purchase of SA-24 missile systems, an armored vehicle which carries four Igla-S missiles – among of the most advanced shoulder missiles on the market.

 

In addition, the Syrians purchased between 36 to 50 Pantsir S-1 (SA-22) systems. This is a system combining missiles and shells and its development has only been completed recently. It is installed on a high-mobility vehicle and has a launcher of 12 missiles. Each missile weighs 65 kilograms (143 pounds) and has a 16-kilogram (35.2-pound) warhead.

 

The Syrians have also improved their old antiaircraft systems, such as the SA-3 and SA-6.

 

According to the memo, the Syrians are interested in purchasing long-range S-300 air defense systems and S-11 and SA-17 medium-range mobile air defense systems.

 

The S-300, one of the most advanced missiles used by the Syrian army can accurately intercept aircrafts from a distance of several tens of kilometers, thanks to an improved radar system combined with special sensors on the missile itself.

  

According to the military source, the Syrian army possesses today improved long-range and short-range air defense systems for the interception of aircrafts.

  

Aryeh Egozi contributed to this report

 

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