Syria needs a dozen S-300 batteries to protect itself – Russian general; Kerry Denounces Plan

Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday deplored the Russian plan to ship S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria, saying that it will not lead to peace. The batteries would constrain Israel from bombarding targets in Syria and so would be a game-changer for Israeli security, and they would likely put paid to any talk of a NATO no-fly zone over Syria a la Libya. Russia seems determined to follow through, however (see below).

There is a controversy about whether any of the systems has already been delivered; Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview that one had, but many observers discount this claim.

RT reports:

And here is a video showing S-300s in action:

The USG Open Source Center translates an article from a Russian military source. The article has some interesting details on the S-300’s capabilities and asserts that Syrian crews could be trained within a month.

“Syria to need up to a dozen S-300 batteries to protect itself – Russian general
Interfax-AVN Online
Friday, May 31, 2013
Document Type: OSC Summary . . .

Syria needs at least 10 battalions of Russian S-300 air defence missile systems in order to be able fully to protect its territory from possible air attack, former Russian Air Force C-in-C Army General Anatoliy Kornukov told the Russian military news agency Interfax-AVN on 31 May.

“Based on the size of Syria’s territory, they will need 10-12 S-300 battalions (Russian: “divizion”; strictly, the next force level up from a battery, i.e. battalion), which would see to it that the country is protected,” Kornukov said.

“According to him, that kind of potential will make it all but impossible to set up a no-fly zone over Syria,” the report said.

“Each S-300 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system consists of a command post equipped with radar for detection and up to six 5Zh15 SAMs linked up with it,” the report added.

A month to train Syrian crews

It will take up to a month to train Syrian crews to operate the S-300, Kornukov told Interfax-AVN. “Certainly, our specialists will have to train Syrian colleagues if they get these systems. Everything here will depend on the diligence of those to be trained. It will, however, take between two weeks and a month,” Kornukov said.

Asked how long it would take to deploy the S-300 once in Syria, Kornukov said that “everything depends on the site where these systems are to be positioned”. “It will take some time to reach the site, although to deploy them proper will take no more than a couple of hours,” he said. It is, he noted, a conservative estimate to take account of the need for “additional adjustments after transit”. “Ordinarily, however, our systems can be deployed within five minutes,” Kornukov added.

Almost impossible to jam

No electronic warfare system in the world can suppress the S-300 completely, Kornukov also told Interfax-AVN.

“As far as protection from electronic countermeasures is concerned, we have not yet tested the S-300 in a combat environment,” Kornukov admitted. He went on to recall an occasion when countermeasures were deployed by “our Bering Strait neighbours”, which, however, did not prevent the success of that particular combat training mission.

It would, however, be wrong to say that the S-300 is totally immune to electronic countermeasures, Kornukov also said. “There are electronic warfare systems, including ours, that can affect its combat operation,” he said. A “smart commander”, however, can find a way round and still hit his target.

“Kornukov, however, declined to explain exactly how the S-300 could resist suppression by electronic countermeasures,” the Interfax-AVN report added.

(Description of Source: Moscow Interfax-AVN Online in Russian — Website of news service devoted to military news and owned by the independent Interfax news agency; URL:”

16 Responses

  1. The SA-10 would certainly be a game-changer, depending on the variant sold/deployed; presumably, Syrian crews would be trained in Russia before the system would be delivered/deployed.

  2. And this is how John Kerry not so subtly threatened Russia, according to CBC.

    “We ask them again not to upset the balance within the region with respect to Israel,” he said. “The weaponry that is being provided to Assad, whether it is an old contract or not, has a profoundly negative impact on the balance of interests and the stability of the region and it does put Israel at risk. It is not in our judgment responsible because of the size of the weapons, the nature of the weapons and what it does to the region in terms of Israel’s security, so we hope that they will refrain from that in the interests of making this peace conference work.”

    How the hell do defensive anti-air missile batteries negatively affect Israel?…..other than significantly impacting their ability to strike at will? Seriously?!, can America’s total lack of impartiality be more openly exposed?…..not that anyone was surprised, mind you.

    It seems a bit too much to ask the public to encourage the EU’s recent efforts to supply direct military support to the “Free” Syrian army, but decry Russian air defenses as a problem. Meanwhile, John McCain shows up and has a photo op with a known militant kidnapper – all the while arguing that the good ol’ US of A will definitely know who the bad guys are. nice try Senator.

    Perhaps this is a prime example of a war with no winners even remotely possible; and, perhaps we all should stay out of it for the best interest of everyone. Let the conflict burn itself out. A fatally weak Syria isn’t necessarily a good thing. I think even the Israelis know this.

    lastly, FYI Trolls… I’m not an Assad backer or anti-semite. I’m just confident that nobody is going to be happy with the outcome of this conflict – so lets quit killing and get to the inevitable business of settling the peace before this gets way out of control.

    • the question is reasonable:
      how do strictly defensive ADA missiles affect Israel, other than to make them think twice before striking within Syria again.

      Depending on the Radar model and type of missile included, an S-300 system positioned near the Turkish border can track and strike aircraft down south in Eliat.

      I favor Syria being able to shoot down Israeli aircraft over Syria, but this is a different matter altogether.

  3. It’s always interesting listening to smart, articulate people, explain how someone else exercising their right to self-defense, puts them at risk. It becomes a tangle of illogic, to be spun quickly and spoken with blustering conviction, before changing the subject or counter-attacking whomever dared to pose such a question. I’m sure there are strong, advanced briefs for these lines of argument now being circulated at the WINEP.

    But its becomes far easy to explain such a position when you drop the facade of respect for the sovereignty of others, and your own over-riding need to keep others at your mercy.

    As an American, such a defensive capability by another state not beholding to us really is a threat, because no longer can we effectively threaten them. And let’s not even touch the even deeper, arguably pathologic insecurities, of our “only real friend” in the Middle East, whose name must not be spoken.

  4. Here’s a bitsy small sample of what’s going on in one little corner of the Global Imperium while the stupid Great Gamers are busily getting richer and more potent and scaring the serial hell out of the rest of us:

    Almaz S-300P/PT/PS/PMU/PMU1/PMU2 Almaz-Antey S-400 Triumf SA-10/20/21 Grumble/Gargoyle

    Technical Report APA-TR-2006-1201
    by Dr Carlo Kopp, AFAIAA, SMIEEE, PEng
    December, 2006
    Updated May, 2008.
    Updated December, 2008.
    Updated March, 2009.
    Updated February, 2010
    Updated November, 2010
    Updated May, 2011
    Updated April, 2012
    © 2003 – 2012 Carlo Kopp

    Both the Almaz S-300P/S-400 (SA-10, SA-20) and Antey S-300V (SA-12) SAM systems grew out of the disappointments of Vietnam and the Yom Kippur wars, where single digit S-75/SA-2, S-125/SA-3 and 3M9/SA-6 series SAMs were soundly defeated in combat by the US and Israelis respectively.

    Designed for the high density battlespace of late Cold War central Europe, the S-300P and S-300V series of SAMs represent the pinnacle of Soviet Cold War era SAM technology, with no effort spared to push the technological envelope. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, both systems have continued to evolve, benefitting immeasurably from large scale access to Western technology markets, and Western computational technology to support further design effort. Against the current benchmark in Western SAM technology, the Raytheon Patriot PAC-3 system, both the S-300P and S-300V series remain highly competitive.

    [Anyone noticing a certain kind of idiotic futility built into the circularity of counter-counter- counter-counter- counter-counter- counter-counter- counter-counter- counter-counter-threats? Profitable as they may be for a few of us?] There’s lots more war-lover idiocy on offer at the link this quote came from: link to, one of thousands of sources of haha “intelligence” about how the WorldMIC operates and cogitates…

    And on the diplomatic front, “did they or didn’t they”: another chapter in the “are you lying now, or were you lying then” endless tomfoolery:

    Russia: No plans to sell S-300 missile to Syria

    Russia has no plans to sell Syria an advanced air defense system, its foreign minister said on Friday, denying media reports that it planned such a sale.

    The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Israel had informed the United States a Russian deal is imminent to sell advanced ground-to-air missiles that would significantly boost Syria’s ability to stave off intervention in the conflict.

    The newspaper quoted US officials as saying they were analyzing the information, but would not comment on whether they believed the sale of S-300 missile batteries was near.
    Itar-Tass news agency quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying Russia would be fulfilling contracts it has already concluded with Damascus but that this did not include sales of the S-300 system.

    link to

    And on the full-on, 24/7, “trillions for threats and counterthreats, but not one cent for health care or infrastructure maintenance,” no amount is too much for countermeasures front:

    Greece Quietly Provides Israeli Air Force Pivotal Assistance on S-300

    Greece has quietly assisted the Israeli Air Force in a previously unreported fashion as the dreaded decision of a possible Israeli preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities draws closer, this reporter has learned.

    A pivotal factor in Israel’s military strategy against Iran’s nuclear installations is the recent delivery to Iran of Russia’s potent S-300 Russian ground-to-air radar systems. Considered one of the world’s most versatile radar-missile systems, Russia’s S-300 batteries can simultaneous track hundreds of semi-stealth cruise missiles, long range missiles and aircraft, including airborne monitoring jets. As many as ten intruders can be simultaneously engaged by the S-300’s mobile interceptor missile batteries, military sources say. As such, the S-300 is a major threat to the long-range weapons in the Israeli arsenal. These include Israel’s long-range 1,500 km. nuclear-capable Jericho IIB missiles; unmanned missile-equipped long-range drones; Israel’s F-16s, F-15Es; long range heavy-payload F151s and F161s; and even its three new Gulfstream G550 business jets boasting a range of 6,750 nautical miles, newly outfitted with nuclear-tracking electronics and designed to loiter over or near Iranian skies for hours. The S-300 can compromise everything Israel has.

    But Greece has the same Russian S-300 system.

    Originally purchased by Cyprus in 1998, the Cypriot installation provoked a storm of protracted protests by Turkey because the system would make vulnerable all Turkish air movements. To resolve tensions and prevent a Turkish preemptive attack on the installations, the S-300 by international agreement was moved to Crete for safekeeping, and eventually joint-Cypriot-Greek control based on the 1993 mutual defense pact between Cyprus and Greece. On December 20, 2007, the move and installation of the S-300 was quietly completed.

    In the last days of May and first week of June, 2008, Israel staged an impressive and well-reported exercise over Crete with the participation of the Greek air force. More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighter jets, as well as Israeli rescue helicopters and mid-air refueling planes flew a massive number of mock strikes. Israeli planes reportedly never landed but were continuously refueled from airborne platforms. Israel demonstrated that a 1400 km distance could be negotiated with Israeli aircraft remaining aloft and effective. Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility is 1400 km from Israel.

    While the Israeli-Greek air tactics were amply reported in the world’s media after initial reports in the New York Times, the pivotal information from Greece’s S-300 batteries has remained below the radar. By swarming its jets into the S-300’s massive electronics, Israel was able to record invaluable information about defeating, jamming and circumventing the Russian system.

    Israel dubbed its exercise “Glorious Spartan.” It is recalled that 300 glorious Spartans went down in history by forestalling the massive Persian army at a tiny land passage at the Battle of Thermopylae in 480 BC. The tiny Jewish State is now contemplating whether it must act unilaterally to forestall Iran’s nuclear threat.

    Source: link to

    And in the AIPAC-reassurance, keep-those-sales-figures-up column, there’s this:

    Can the U.S. F-35 fighter destroy Russia’s S-300 systems?

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 20 (UPI) — The American Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth Lightning Joint Strike Fighter is designed to destroy Russia’s S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems, its developers say. The F-35’s capability is particularly relevant in this time of increased concern over Russia’s alleged sale of S-300s to Iran, a nation that has repeatedly threatened to “wipe Israel off the map.”
    According to, Lockheed Martin Executive Vice President of F-35 Program Integration Tom Burbage said that, with acquisition of the F-35 fighters, Israel should no longer fear the possibility of facing S-300 systems in Syria and Iran. The computer simulations have demonstrated that the Lightning can defeat Russia’s S-300 in combat.

    [Rest easy, O daughters of Sion, the Lord is with thee…]
    Read more: link to So all “we” got to do is gift the IDF a bunch of F-35s, and hey, THAT threat is taken care of, for now…

    And, of course, a whole other lot of clever, dry idiocy is on offer in the WorldMIC trade press on the onrushing obsolescence not only of “legacy weapons,” but of course even the current baddest-and-worstest, soon to be profitably replaced, with Krupp-tion-lubricated sales models leading to billions in sales to “both sides” of the nominal conflicts and Great Imperial Grunting and Shoving Scrum.

    And the stupid quadrille-cum-tap-dance goes on and on…

    Watch out for your toes, little people – you are likely to get trod upon.

  5. I wonder how Israel will react. Israel has always attacked its neighbors with impunity. Its military superiority has allowed it to feel immune to any repercussions. Is it feeling less immune these days?

    What would Israel do if one of its jets was shot down over Syria? Or, more likely, if its jet falls in Israel after firing a long range missile into Syria? This is also a Casus belli even if the jet itself does not violate Syrian air space.

  6. When secretary of state Kerry says the S300 “will not lead to peace” would he also say the same for the Patriot Missile Batteries that us has been deploying in Israel and gulf countries?

  7. In US Air Defense Artillery, the term “battery” usually refers to a group of maybe 4 to 6 launch vehicles, a fire direction center (here called a “command center,”) and radars for target acquisition and, if needed, missile vectoring.

    Here the souces clarify which missiles are involved: 5Zh15’s. I’ve never heard of them.

    If a “system” consists of the FDC, radar and up to 6 launch vehicles, and the most a TEL launch vehicle can carry is 4 missiles, then the max number of missiles in a battery is 24. More advanced S-300 systems only carry 2 missiles per TEL.

    A battalion is some grouping of batteries, plus support units. If, just guessing, there are 3 batteries in a battalion, that’s a max of 72 missiles.
    10 to 12 battalions, the math is straightforward.

    That’s not necessarily the number that Russia has sold to Syria; that’s an estimate of what it would take to defeat a US no-fly zone.

    Guessing, I think a battery costs in the ballpark of $200 – 300 million. Syria can afford to buy approximately zero.
    I assume that any sent to Syria are loaners.

    I’ve read that this system is nearly impossible to fool, and is about 70% effective. The Patriot, for comparison, is about 25% effective.

    i’ve read that Syrian missileers have already completed 2 years of training in Russia. The 1 month of training mentioned above is refresher training. Who knows how long its been since they got their initial training.

  8. the header appears to be wrong.

    From the text of the USG OSC quote, the Russian General says that Syria would need 10 to 12 battalions.
    A battalion is bigger than a battery; it consists of a number of batteries.

  9. The Russians like to boast about the technological capability of their weapons, but let’s take this with a grain of salt. First, ss Janes has noted, what we’re talking about is a collection of vehicles. You have a launcher, radar and a command and control vehicle. You need all of that working together. How long will it take Syrian ground personnel to master all that? What is their proficiency? Those are key questions.

    Also, the last time there was prolonged combat between Israel & Syria, the IDF blinded Syrian (Russian) defense systems, obliterating their systems on the first day of fighting. That was 1982. Israel is now a technological superpower with a high-tech industry that’s leagues ahead of Russia’s.

  10. > “Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday deplored the Russian plan to ship S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria, saying that it will not lead to peace.”

    ie. ..
    “Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday deplored the Russian plan to ship S-300 anti-aircraft systems to Syria, saying that it will allow Syria to fight off an Israeli attack.”

  11. All muscle flexing… those are nothing compared to America’s capabilities. Israel can take them out itself

  12. Thanks to JTMCPHEE. Every new Russian missile advance is always met by US military exceptionalists as “not as good as they say, we’re better”. The more impotant dynamic is that new weapons neutralize old ones and that until you have a real ‘contest’, you don’t know. Israel may have thought it learned a lot about the S300 ystem, but the ignorance lodged within its exceptionalism permits the glossing over of what the Russians learned courtesy of Israel, and by now have thought long and hard about how to counter the counter. “Never underestimate your enemy” may be a theoretical dictum but history seems to suggest it always has trouble getting very far out of military classrooms.

    Every US war game includes force pawns that are ‘killed’, and while the human participants can joke about it afterward, because it was just a game, in the real contest they would dead as a doornail. It’s a good time to recall just how horribly expensive the F35 magic bullet is, how many we have, and what the pond ripples might look like with the loss of even one.

    All this emphasis on technical superiority also continues to pile more compost on top of the media grave of Paul Van Riper who didn’t need an F35 or an S300 to make the US military, not to mention Israel, wince.

  13. And regarding Rusia’s concern about Syria’s ability to protect itself: is it ‘itself’ or ‘himself’?

  14. Russian S-300 missile shield will create no-fly zone for Israel over Syria & may be Lebanon that is shifting the balance of power against Israel, which is not acceptable to either Washington or Israel, & that is troubling to both.

    Russia has to accept American Missile Shield anywhere USA want to install, but Russian defense Missile shield is not acceptable. Why? It is also purely for defensive purpose.

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