Rossiya 24 Report, December 26, 2018.

Journalist: “Prolonging the conflict and supporting the terrorists”. This is a statement by the Syrian Foreign Ministry regarding the probable, as the local diplomats and politicians see it, goals of the Israeli missile attack against Syria. Last night, for 1.5 hours, the outskirts of Damascus were under fire from the direction of Lebanese airspace. The air defense system shot most of the targets down but there are still some victims; an ammunition depot was damaged.

“Basically, this is a rude violation of Syrian sovereignty and the terms of a UN Security Council Resolution”. This is the reaction by the Russian Foreign Ministry. The Duma members from the Committee on Friendship with the Syrian Parliament agree with that, saying that this is an obvious attempt to destabilize the situation and that this is obviously helpful to the militants whom Israel claims to be fighting.

Another important detail from the Russian Defense Ministry: As it turned out, the Israeli strikes took place just when civilian planes were landing in the Beirut and Damascus airports.

We’ll ask Vadim Zavodchenkov: What’s the point of such tactics? Vadim, greetings. 

Vadim Zavodchenkov: Good evening.

Journalist: Were they using the civilian planes as cover? 

Vadim Zavodchenkov: Well, Alexey, the initiators of the attack surely knew that their actions posed a danger to civilian planes and passengers.

Here’s data from about the traffic in the sky above Syria just before the attack on Damascus. One can see that there are both transit airplanes and the planes that took off from the capital in the south of the country.

Of course, the Damascus airport traffic can’t be compared to the traffic of Israeli airports or other Middle Eastern countries. Nevertheless, 15 planes in total were to depart and arrive this day, heading to Kuwait, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. The Syrian flight operators had to urgently reroute a civilian plane to the alternate airfield of Khmeimim because of the American-made aerial bombs which Israel had used before.

GBU-39 is equipped with folding wings and is capable of gliding, which dramatically increases its combat range. Despite the fact that it’s considered to be a small diameter precision bomb, the results of its use may turn out to be rather big.

Victor Zabolotsky, honored test pilot: “If air traffic control doesn’t warn the pilot that there’s something odd in the area near you, for example, a missile attack or something else, then the only thing that’s left is to leave the area because no one knows where they will strike, whether it’s the airport, a hangar, or some warehouses. Even if they blow up a depot, the fragments may disperse as far as 15 kilometers and so on”.

The latest version of the American bomb is capable of eliminating even moving targets. Such a capability is granted by the joint use of GPS, infrared and radar homing. However, even such advanced munitions can’t stay undetected by Syrian air defenses.

According to some data, the Syrian government forces could have used the Pantsir S-1 air defense complex. It was used many times earlier, for example, to fight terrorist drones. The Pantsir S-1, operating on the move, is capable of eliminating a target flying at a speed of 1,000 meters per second. It’s almost impossible to evade it. The Pantsir is capable of detecting a target up to 80 kilometers away, it can acquire up to 10 targets per minute, and track up to 4 targets at the same time.

However, they had to limit the deployment of air defense systems and electronic countermeasures systems due to the threat to civilian planes. The goal of electronic countermeasures is to interrupt the satellite signal, thus leaving the missiles or aerial bombs without any way to home in on their targets. However, due to radar jamming, civilian planes can also go blind because their course is corrected with the help of GPS.

Alexey Leonkov, military expert of Arsenal Otechestva magazine: “The means of electronic countermeasures work on certain frequencies and can affect civilian planes. They started the attack right when the planes started to land. Those were the civilian planes near Damascus, they attacked the Damascus airport. Officially, there is no war there anymore, so there were no restrictions for landing”.

Thanks to the precise, selective implementation of the Syrian air defense systems, 14 out of 16 guided aerial bombs were destroyed. Alexey.

Journalist: Thank you. Vadim Zavodchenkov about the goals and means.

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