Egozi: Syria as a War Laboratory

Egozi: Syria as a War Laboratory

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By Arie Egozi

The civil war in Syria has ruined most parts of this country. While the population has been suffering from attacks on civil targets, the forces taking part in this war have been using it as a giant war laboratory.

There are many weapon systems that have been employed to kill and injure people in Syria. Some are old ones that have been operated in wars before, but others are the latest technology, and their participation in the war supplied an opportunity to evaluate them in almost real combat conditions. The continued presence of the Russian SU-57 stealth fighters in Syria gives the U.S and Israel a rare opportunity to evaluate some of its capabilities.

Most of the data was collected during the recent biennial joint American-Israeli “Juniper Cobra” 2018 training exercise. This exercise brought to Israel ground and aerial sensors operated by the U.S units and these served for the assessment of the SU-57 capabilities.

The U.S is almost totally silent about the technologies it has developed to detect stealth aircraft.

Russia claims that it has developed a new radar system that can detect stealth warplanes. But the Sunflower low-frequency over-the-horizon radar likely suffers all the same drawbacks that have plagued previous generations of similar sensors.

Sources say that the Sunflower might be able to detect a low-observable airplane. But it probably can’t do so with great fidelity and generate a useful targeting track for a missile to follow. Despite Russia’s claim, stealth aircraft are no less difficult to find, target and destroy now than they were before the Sunflower’s introduction.

The growing Russian military involvement in Syria may soon result in the deployment of the Russian-made S-300 surface-air missiles in this country.

If this happens, Israeli sources say it may become a potential target for the Israeli Air Force, in case that it is operated to limit its freedom of operation over Syria and the region.

With the SU-57 flying over Syria and the advanced surface-air system protecting the Syrian airspace, the data about the capabilities of the most advanced Russia systems has become crucial, Israeli sources said.

Israeli sources assess that in parallel to the efforts of the American and Israelis to assess the stealth capabilities of the SU-57 in Syria, the Russians have been using their massive presence in Syria to assess the stealth capabilities of the F-35 flying in Israel.

Arie Egozi, iHLS Editor-in-Chief