Israeli F-16I pilots use Greece’s S-300 SAMs to prepare for potential Iran air strikes

May 06 2015 - 28 Comments

Israeli F-16I pilots get S-300 training opportunity

The Israeli Air Force has used INIOXOS-2015, one the largest annual exercise of the Hellenic Air Force, to prepare for a potential situation where it will have to attack Iranian nuclear facilities by performing missions against the S-300PMU-1 surface-to-air missile system, stationed in Crete, according to Flightglobal.

Russia has recently lifted the ban on sale of S-300 systems to Iran.

The S-300 is a mobile air defense system that couples a radars capable to track multiple targets with long-range missiles to hit aerial targets at a distance of 150 km and an altitude up to 27,000 meters. Although well-known to the western air forces, it remains a lethal SAM system that Iran could field to protect its nuclear sites.

From Apr. 20 to 30, at least 150 combat planes from all Combat Wings/Squadrons of the HAF performed various missions, day and night, such as Counter Air Operations against Integrated Air Defence Systems, Anti Surface Force Air Operations, Fighter Sweep, HVAAE (High Value Asset Air Escort), Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Time Sensitive Targets, Dynamic Targeting – Time Sensitive Targets.

Israel deployed 10 F-16I Sufa jets from four Squadrons (201 «The One», 253 «The Negev», 107 «The Knights of the Orange Tail» and 119 «The Bat) at the 117 Combat Wing/Andravida Air Base and U.S. Air Force in Europe dispatched a number of SF personnel as JTACs (Joint Terminal Attack Controllers).

The Israeli AF Commander Maj Gen Amir Eshel visited the troops and flew at least one mission over Aegean Sea along with his Greek counterpart Lt Gen Christos Vaitsis (with F-16D Block52+ ADV of 335 Sq. “Tiger”).

Thanks to the exercise in Greece (not the first attended by the Israeli since the deterioration of their relations with Turkey), the Israeli Air Force has gathered important data about the Russian SAM system and had the opportunity to test and improve evasion tactics during simulated attacks against ground targets protected by S-300 batteries.

H/T e-Amyna for the heads-up

F-16I in Greece

Image credit: IAF and HAF


  • That’s very good thinking. It’s nice to see some cooperation on this one because Israel won’t be getting it from the United States.

    • BernardP

      Not until after 2016 anyway…

  • So what is standard operating procedure for evading a SAM? (i.e. what is one supposed to do when a s-300 locks onto your plane and fires?)

    • PugilistProdigy


      • Lareb Noor

        fly DEAD missions. bombers could do the needful

    • Sae

      In case of F16s and without being able to jam
      It is called “Prepare For Eject” !!!

    • Matthys

      SEAD – using Stealth Bombers or Long Range Cruise Missiles.

      It’s never been used in active combat so it might just flop.

  • Spencerhut

    I count at least a dozen bumps on the current F-16’s that were not there when they were first released. I wonder how the new versions with all the conformal pods on them would do in a dogfight with one of the older clean airframe models?

    • Matthys

      I don’t think they took that into account, range is what they need to go after Iran.

    • Lareb Noor

      older models like blk-15s outsmart blk-50+ in close combat, however lesser is their combat radius

  • David

    Well we still don’t know which version will go to Iran so if they practice odn the S-300PMU-1 and iran gets the S-300VM it will be like practicing on a home cat and then going against a jungle cat :)

    • Matthys

      Forget Jungle cat it will be a Pack of Lions…

      Would be wiser to wait for the F-35.

  • nickwolf

    Whenever I see one of those F-16Is with the conformal fuel tanks and the enlarged spine I can’t help but think that they’re trying to turn a fragile fighter into a kind of F-105 “Thud” Thunderchief.

    • Andrew Tubbiolo

      When I see the “I” and the like, I’m reminded of the Mig-21 BIS.

  • marco

    just 2 fixes not “that care” but “take care”, not “regression” but “egress route”… sorry I was writing in a hurry

  • Matthys

    The Missiles are brutally fast and it’s seekers are notorious for working in a cluttered environment.

    • guest

      According to the Russian salesmen, anyway. Has any version of the S300 ever been used in combat? It’s a 1980s design that was never sold to Saddam Hussein because he couldn’t afford them.

      • Matthys

        Most ABM systems have their design basis from 70’s or 80’s designs such as the Patriot System etc.

        The S300 has gone through many upgrades such as the S400 and S500.

        The one in question that the Iranians are allegedly acquiring is the S-300PMU1.

        What makes this variant particularly worrying is the Multi-functional radar and it’s fire control radar system.

        It’s designed to take out aerial targets whether high or low flying.

        France and Germany highly rated the S-300PMU as being a system posing the highest significant threat to western aircraft.

        However, it will come down to the operator of the system.

        It’s a hard system to take out with anti-radiation ASM’s or UCAV’s.

        It also just depends on how many systems Iran acquires.

        This system alone won’t however win any confrontation for Iran. It will only make the risks higher. If one looks at the entire Iranian military it’s quite easy to see that the majority of their equipment is outdated.

        However this could change if sanctions are dropped and Iran is allowed to import Russian and Chinese military equipment. However, due to their economic issues I doubt this will happen and the first thing Iran will most likely try to do once sanctions are dropped is to save their economy.

  • STV

    In a way,Yes, but by adopting another F-16 variant that specialised in the long range strike role they significantly lowered the cost on parts, facilities and training as well as increasing serviceability and availability.
    Important if you find yourself in a prolonged war but also a smart move for a country with limited budgets, limited land and few friends in its neighbourhood.

  • STV

    The United States gives billions in aid to many of Israel’s hostile neighbours but only Israel is criticised for doing the smart thing and accepting the money the USA gives them.
    At least they actually give something back.

    • InvaderNat

      Like who? Jordan, Egypt, Iraq? I haven’t seen them be hostile to Israel for quite some time now. Israel is just a US protectorate.

  • OR

    still, it would not be a walk in the park, I guess Iranians are smart enough to deploy jammers and decoys (approximately at price of a microwave oven each) as well.

  • FrankW

    Israel will never attack Iran, she will bait the U.S. into doing that. BiBi has been crying about the big bad Iranian wolf for years, and still he has not attacked (remember, just like when he, Ariel Sharon, and the neocons made Saddam Hussein out to be the next Hitler). Why do you think??, because he would rather American blood and money be spilled than Jewish blood and money. Not to mention there was a poll taken in Israel that said 63% of Israelis would prefer the U.S. attack Iran and not their own country. Gee, I wonder why?? And you can put all the conformal fuel tanks you want on an F-16, still will not able to fly round trip to central Iran-

    If you are tired of the Obama Democratic welfare state, and tired of the Republican neocons lying us into another needless war; vote Rand Paul in 2016-

  • FrankW

    The difference is that Iran is far larger (nearly the size of Alaska) than Syria or Iraq; and the distances are also far greater than Syria or Iraq. So comparing Iran to them is rather illogical.

  • Keithon de Bique

    I never said it can’t happen. Even you see Iran feels militarily threatened – airstrikes against the reactors, the Saudi’s flexing muscles, an 8 year war.

    Weighs greater towards buying new weapons first. Economic pain so be it.

    • Matthys Jacobs

      As it turns out Saudi is starting to feel the financial pressure.

      The IMF recently came out with a statement that they are facing a cash crisis and if the price of oil does not do a major reversal in the next 5 years they might end up experiencing their first ever deficit in trade and financing.

      Added to the above pressures, their water aquifers are estimated to dry out in the next 2 years because they decided against advise to exploit them to quickly and on such a large scale so it would mean a return of wheat etc imports.

      The Iranians have lived under sanctions for decades so could live with a low oil price as it would seem.

      I’m actually just not sure what the Saudi’s will do, I’ve noticed that they struggled in Yemen and given that the rebels in Yemen have no air support nor the type of sophisticated weapons that Iran has, one has to wonder what would happen in a confrontation.

      Iran does not have strategic airlift nor aerial refueling capabilities so I gather they wouldn’t go and pick a fight, they would just unleash proxies. Knowing that the US is losing interest in the Middle East, they might end up coming up above Saudi and get to the number 3 spot, after Israel and Egypt.

  • A.Alexander

    s300, s400 ever in practice?

  • A.Alexander

    I understand why you eliminated my comment: ever in practice? The answer is no.