Dec 2, 2015
New Russian surface-to-air missiles in Syria, DoD confirms
U.S. intelligence shows that Russia is following through on plans to send S-400 missile systems into its military base in Syria, the officials said.
With a reported range of up to 248 miles, those missiles could put at risk most U.S. combat aircraft flying over Syria.
The S-400 Surface to Air Missile System that the Russian military has deployed to Syria has an estimated range of 400 kilometers. That puts most aircraft flying over Syria, as well as the U.S. aircraft at Turkey’s
Incirlik Air Base, at risk.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the S-400 missiles to Syria one day after a Turkish F-16 aircraft shot down a Russian Su-24 jet last Tuesday. Turkish officials said the Russian aircraft veered into Turkish airspace for less than 30 seconds and was fired upon only after repeated verbal warnings.
Russia's installation of the S-400s prompted a rare phone call on Monday between Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his Russian counterpart, the first time in several months the two top military officers have spoken directly.
The U.S. and Russia signed a narrow agreement Oct. 20 outlining safety protocols for sharing the air space over Syria and avoiding mishaps and misunderstandings.
Dunford wanted Russia to " reaffirm its commitment to the memorandum of understanding" for sharing the skies over Syria, Dunford told lawmakers Tuesday.
Defense officials also acknowledged that Russia has begun arming its combat aircraft over Syria with air-to-air missiles.
A Pentagon spokesman expressed concern about the surface-to-air missiles and other aerial targeting weaponry because it suggests the Russians are rejecting a call from American officials to focus on targeting the Islamic State group, also known as ISIL or Daesh.
The U.S. recently sent air-to-air-capable F-15Cs to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base near the Syrian border. Those aircraft are not slated for combat sorties over Syria but instead are assigned to a mission protecting Turkish airspace, officials say.
Those F-15Cs, deployed to Turkey in early November, so far have been limited to training missions and have not yet flown any combat air patrols.