Since the US strike cruise missiles at Syrian airbase in the foreign media, the debate continues, why Russia did not use its air defense system in Syria. The basic answer is, in fact, there are three: Russia did not dare to go to the aggravation of the situation for political reasons; the power of the air defense systems of Russia actually is a myth, and they are not able at all to shoot down cruise missiles; and, finally, that the Russian air defense system is so ineffective that a small percentage even of the downed missiles will bring down the demand for Russian air defense systems in the world and will impact overall on the reputation of Russian weapons for export.
Popular Mechanics tries to understand the thinking of Putin, who gave the order on the application of air defense, although he knew in advance about the attack, as was warned. Most likely, it was clear that it would be a massive attack, not a few missiles, most likely was clear where they were going. Putin would give the order and then tell the world that he saved the lives of the Syrian military, fighting terrorists. But he didn’t. Why? Guess edition are as follows: he had not done so, because if the Russian air defense system knocked the Tomahawks, it would be a serious blow to the marketing campaign of Russian weapons. As emphasized by Popular Mechanics, the world’s biggest mystery today in the military sector — can Russian air defense system to really confront the us air force or not?
However, there is a version that thus, Putin made it clear to Assad that will not cover his actions constantly, and that Assad should refrain from committing war crimes. This version POPs up periodically on the forums and in the comments of foreign readers.
CNN even put forward the theory that Russia is thus essentially agreed on the need to spend a single exponential attack on the Syrian facility, though the Russians could shoot down the Tomahawks.
Daily Mail publishes article under the headline “anti-Missile system for the Russian leader failed to protect Syrian airbase” and notes that despite all the assurances of the Russian military that their air defense system can defend against missiles and enemy aircraft, in real life, the air defense system of Russia were not yet working at American equipment and technology.
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty for its readers quoted statements in the Russian social networks (for example: Leyla, @agentleyla — “I can’t understand why our C400 nearby, or Syrian C300 is not hit by American missiles???”, Uncle Shu, @Shulz — “Look, I just want to ask — and Moscow, too, cover the s-300 and s-400?”) and the comments of the Russian military experts, who note that the Americans have launched the missiles so that they do not fall in the zone of Russian air defense systems, and the systems are located too far from the base Shirt to work at low-flying targets.
Justin Bronk (Bronk Justin), analyst of the British RUSI (Royal United Services Institute), believes that the s-400 though advertised as able to withstand cruise missiles, but he’s actually good against ballistic missiles flying at the target from above, and against aircraft but not against cruise missiles, low-flying over the surface with changes in elevation.
The publication quoted and the Russian observer Pavel Felgenhauer, who writes that the Russian air defense system can at best cover essentially only the objects where they are placed, effective defense radius of about 30 km, but not objects at great distances, and certainly not the whole territory of Syria. It’s about the fact that Russia can defend Syrian airspace, according to observers, is only the PR of Russian weapons.
Went English network and the translation of the article “Why Russian s-300 and s-400 knocked the Tomahawks”. In this article Russian military experts explain the silence of the air defense systems in Syria with Russia’s unwillingness to bring the world to nuclear war: “the Use of Russian air defense systems to the Syrian army in response to rocket attack by the United States would lead to nuclear conflict, which has not occurred only thanks to the composure of the Russian Supreme commander,” said the correspondent member of the Russian Academy of military Sciences Sergey Sudakov. “The main question raised by all — why not the Russian air defense shot down all the missiles. The townsfolk believe that it should be done, and thereby to repel the aggression. But, by and large, if we now started to bring them down, could this morning not to Wake up. Because today is might occur what is called “nuclear conflict”, it would be a clash of two nuclear powers in the third area”, — said Zander.
While foreign commentators these statements of the Russian expert does not see the connection, as the destruction of cruise missiles can be a reason to start a nuclear war, and consider these explanations excuses of helplessness defense.
Newsweek quoted military analyst SIM FEC (Sim Tack) from Stratfor, which suggests that the decision not to use defense was accepted by Russia on political grounds, and military, and that the Russian air defense system has ever worked for American cruise missiles, that is, the effectiveness of their fire at “the Tomahawk” it is impossible to predict.
In the material of the Asia Times notes that despite the fact that s-400 was not involved, it is obvious that the United States took note of their presence and launched missiles from a distance, and even warned the Russian. That is, even the presence of the s-400 is already playing a role and cools the hot heads. This should please China and India, who purchase air defense systems from Russia. On the other hand, according to the newspaper, most likely the Russian radar has detected a swarm of cruise missiles, but the system fire has not been activated. This is not necessarily related to the weakness of the system, but it still casts doubt on how truly effective s-400 against a large number of low-flying targets.
With regard to versions in the comments to the articles, the scatter is large: the Russian air defense system is not activated, because it is too expensive to use s-400 against cruise missiles; because the Russian air defense systems in Syria just there are so many shots against dozens and dozens of cruise missiles; because the s-400 is simply not established for the purposes of this kind; because s-400 was denied the power supply system, etc.