Although the reports that the next-generation anti-aircraft weapon system was deployed to Syria were denied by the Russian MoD, whether the Russians have really deployed the system to protect their assets at Latakia or not is still subject to debate.
The Russian MoD image shows what looks like a 96L6 radar. However, according to Air Power Australia’s Dr Carlo Kopp “The 96L6 is the standard battery acquisition radar in the S-400 / SA-21 system, and is available as a retrofit for the S-300PM/PMU/PMU1 and S-300PMU2 Favorit / SA-20 Gargoyle as a substitute for the legacy acquisition radars.”
Considered that the presence of the S-400 has been officially denied, provided the one depicted in the photos is really a 96L6 radar, it may be deployed to support something else.
But let’s have a look at an interesting infographic that provides some details about the S-400.
Designated SA-21 “Growler” by NATO, the S-400 is believed to be able to engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft (someone says even VLO – Very Low Observable ones), drones and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 250 miles at an altitude of nearly 19 miles. Equipped with 3 different types of missiles and an acquisition radar capable of tracking up to 300 targets within the range of over 370 miles, the Triumph (or Triumf) is a system made of 8 launchers and a control station.
Supported by effective EW (Electronic Warfare) capabilities, the S-400 fires missiles that fly at 17,000 km/h against aerial targets: at least on paper, all non-stealth planes (including 4+ Generation planes) will hardly be able to dodge them.
This means that all but U.S. F-22s and B-2s would be threatened by such an advanced air defense system over Syria (and in nearby airspaces).
That said, you can clearly understand why U.S., Israel and NATO are worried that the S-400 (or even S-300) can make their way to Syria (and Iran).
Once there, the aircraft will replace the U.S. Air Force Raptors already there for a 6-month rotational deployment that will see the aircraft take part in Operation Inherent Resolve in the airspaces of Iraq and Syria: although they can attack their own targets using Precision Guided Munitions (two 1,000-lb GBU-32 JDAMs or 8 GBU-39 small diameter bombs) while covering other aircraft in a typical swing role mission, the F-22 have proved to be useful in the air war against ISIS by making other aircraft more survivable, acting as electronic warfare enabled sensor-rich multi-role aircraft that provide “kinetic situational awareness” to other aircraft involved in the air strikes.
For the 199th Fighter Squadron this is the first combat tour of duty since the deployed to Saudi Arabia in 2000, to patrol the southern NFZ (No Fly Zone) of Iraq. At that time the squadron flew the F-15 Eagle; it transitioned to the F-22 Raptor in 2010, flying the 5th Generation stealth planes in partnership with the 19th Fighter Squadron.
On their way to the Middle East, the aircraft made a stopover in Moron, Spain, and Sigonella, Italy.
The images in this post show F-22 Raptor stealth fighters belonging to the 90th FS “Pair-O-Dice,” the first F-22 squadron in Alaska, receiving its advanced aircraft in 2007.
Taken by aviation photographer John Dibbs, they were released by Lockheed Martin’s Code One magazine along with an interesting story about the Arctic Raptors based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
Along with 90th and 525th FS, belonging to 3rd Wing, the 302nd FS is an Air Force Reserve Command’s associate unit that provides pilots and maintainers who fly and fix the aircraft alongside their active duty counterparts.
As the Code One article points out, not only do the pilots of the 302nd are on alert, ready to go at a moment’s notice, year-round, they are also the most experienced F-22 squadron in the USAF, with four of the eleven total Raptor pilots who have achieved the 1,000-hour milestone.
However, the Raptor Package, departed from Spangdahlem Air Force Base, Germany, using radio callsign “Tabor 11,” was forced to return to “Spang” shortly after take-off as one of the supporting KC-135 tankers launched from RAF Mildenhall, UK, experienced a failure that prevented it from refueling the 5th Gen. jets.
The four stealth planes landed safely at Spangdahlem airbase but departed again in the afternoon for a short trip to RAF Mildenhall, where they have landed shortly before 15.30 GMT.
They will probably spend the night at “The Hall” before attempting again to cross the Pond on Sept. 12.