Incoming! Russian Missiles Bound for Syria
The Word Unheard out of Moscow is that Syria has finally inked a major arms deal with Russia for major upgrades in Syrian anti-aircraft and anti-tank capabilities. Exact terms of the deal including precise weapons types and numbers were not openly stated. $9.5 billion of Syrias $13 billion debt to the former Soviet Union has been forgiven, and Russia only expects 40% of the remaining $3.5 billion to be paid off during the next 10 years. With a deal like that, it must have been a fine time to hit the Russian Military Bargain Bin.
So what’s known to be in the deal?
Officials said Assad was examining a range of Russian weapons. They included the Iskander-E long-range rocket, anti-tank missiles and the TOR-M1 anti-aircraft defense system.
Syria was said to have signed a $20 million deal for the SA-18 with Russia. But officials said the agreement has been suspended amid Israeli and U.S. opposition.
The Russian newspaper Kommersant recently reported of Russian plans to sell a number of missile systems to Syria, a state sponsor of terrorism and in particular Hezbollah. These included the shoulder-fired SS-18 Igla anti-aircraft missiles, but also and more significantly, eighteen of Russia’s new and made-for-export SS-26 Iskander missile, and the S-300PMU-2 (SA-10) air and missile defense system, similar to that which rings Moscow, and other systems. The S-300PMU-2 system is one of Moscow’s most developed air and missile defense systems. The SS-26 has increasingly made the news for its touted capabilities to evade other air-defenses—possibly the U.S. Patriot interceptors—and the Russian’s plans to market it widely, including in the middle east. The export version of the SS-26 Iskander missile has a reported range of 280 km, sufficient for Syria to strike nearly all of Israel.
At this time, negative publicity may be sufficient reason for Russia to back out of the missile deal, but it nevertheless serves as yet another example of Russia’s long track record of being willing to proliferate missiles and missile technology throughout the world.
How many of the feared SA-18’s will Syria receive for $20 million? The known going rate for an SA-18 package is about $250,000. That’s potentially 80 systems without figuring in any bulk purchase discounts. We are likely looking at 50 base systems and around 75-100 additional missiles. The SA-18 is a very deadly shoulder-launched weapon that Israel is objecting to:
Israel fears the weapons may fall into the hands of Palestinian militants and may ask Washington to intervene to halt the sale of Igla SA18s to Damascus. The Israeli vice-premier, Shimon Peres, said: "We have enough problems on the ground with Syria and we don't need more problems from the sky."…
…The Igla SA18, which cost £130,000 each, is one of the most sophisticated shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles on the market. Military analysts say it is the weapon of choice for many militants because of its simplicity and in-built training system.
The successor to the shoulder-held Russian Sam7, which was used widely during the Vietnam War, the SA18 gives the user more time to fire the missile, has a greater range and can target any part of the aircraft, not only the heat-emitting rear section.
The SA18 can also cut through many western defences. It is resistant to most of the flares used to put anti-aircraft missiles off track.
Israeli officials, who said the deal was signed several days ago, are worried that the anti-aircraft missiles would reach the Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas who have attacked Israel's northern border.
There is a lot of attention placed on the exchanges between Syrian and Israeli officials, as Israel legitimately fears that Hizballah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad will be the last men in the weapons Congo line and not Syria.
"These are defensive weapons, air defense, to prevent aircraft from entering our airspace," Assad said. "If Israel is against us acquiring them, it's as if it was saying 'We want to attack Syria but we don't want them to protect themselves.'"
But any objective observer of regional developments can discern and identify the true motive: To prepare Syria for an American invasion.
Does it not strike even the casual observer that every regime we have faced or are soon to face has been primarily armed by Russia, our ‘partner in the War on Terrorism’? There were grimaces on many faces when George W. Bush visited Moscow and said of Putin, “I have peered into the man’s soul, and he is a good man.” OK, George. You are loved and respected for your wartime leadership, but get off the stage before you hurt yourself.
The Russian anti-tank missiles bound for Syria are unidentified but surely the A14 Kornet, the only anti-tank missile known to penetrate the M1A2 Abrams' formidable armor.
The Russian TOR-M1 bound for Syria is the mobile version of the Gauntlet, known as the SA-15.
The Russian Iskander-E surface-to-surface missile (photo) bound for Syria has an effective range of 280KM, enough to cover Israel but also Western Iraq, the American avenue of approach.
A fine partner. Seems we keep seeing our "partner's" weapons systems coming at us from the other direction.
The Word Unheard also suggested last week that, while Israel feels betrayed by Russia for moving forward with the arms deal with Syria, it was indeed not Russians who betrayed Israel but rather Israelis who allowed the Russian-Israeli technological research and information sharing to occur in the first place.
Lesson: If you bed down with snakes, expect to be bitten. Further, don't cry when it happens.