Syrian news outlets quoted a military expert as saying that the anti-aircraft weapons used to down
a Turkish fighter jet last weekend were made in Iran,
Al-Quds al-Arabi reported Wednesday.
According to the Arabic newspaper, the Syrian expert said Damascus purchased an Iranian-made anti-aircraft gun two years ago. He said the gun can be mounted on armored vehicles.
The expert said the downed Turkish jet flew at a low altitude so as not to be detected by the Syrian radar. However, the expert said, the Turkish crew was not aware that the Syrian air force was in possession of a weapon capable of intercepting planes flying at such a low altitude.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Times quoted American security officials as saying that Syria's
downing of the Turkish jet showed its military is capable of mounting a sophisticated defense against potential enemies, thus "complicating a Libyan-style intervention."
The US officials said Syria's air defense systems have been beefed up by purchases from Russia following the bombing a Syrian nuclear reactor
under construction five years ago. Foreign media said the attack was carried out by Israel.
US military officials were quoted as saying that, at least on paper, the Syrian air defenses appear to be far more robust than those encountered by NATO in Libya and stronger than even Iran's.
"I can name you worse (systems), but they are in places like China," said an Air Force official.
According to the Seattle Times, defense officials and military analysts say defeating Syria's air defenses would require a sustained US military effort that would probably lead to civilian casualties.
The report said most defense analysts claim the Syrian system is similar to the Iranian air defenses in terms of technology, but they suggested that Syrian version is more effective because it is concentrated in a smaller area.
"The Iranians have a huge geographic area to cover, which creates gaps that you can fly through and around," said Jeffrey White, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former Defense Intelligence Agency analyst. "The Syrian system is much more dense."
The experts said the Syrian air defenses are also more tightly integrated than the Iraqi or the Libyan systems, allowing Syrian military officers at disparate sites to share targeting information gleaned from radar.