Why Syria's Air Defenses Failed to Detect Israelis
Posted by David A. Fulghum at 10/3/2007 5:41 AM
Ares - A Defense Technology Blog
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said the Israelis struck a construction
site at Tall al-Abyad just south of the Turkish border on Sept. 6. Press
reports from the region say witnesses saw the Israeli aircraft approach from
the Mediterranean Sea while others found unmarked drop tanks in Turkey near
the border with Syria. Israeli defense officials admitted Oct. 2 that the
Israeli Air Force made the raid.
The big mystery of the strike is how did the non-stealthy F-15s and F-16s
get through the Syrian air defense radars without being detected? Some U.S.
officials say they have the answer.
U.S. aerospace industry and retired military officials indicated today that
a technology like the U.S.-developed "Suter" airborne network attack system
developed by BAE Systems and integrated into U.S. unmanned aircraft by L-3
Communications was used by the Israelis. The system has been used or at
least tested operationally in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last year.
The technology allows users to invade communications networks, see what
enemy sensors see and even take over as systems administrator so sensors can
be manipulated into positions so that approaching aircraft can't be seen,
they say. The process involves locating enemy emitters with great precision
and then directing data streams into them that can include false targets and
misleading messages algorithms that allow a number of activities including
A Kuwaiti newspaper wrote that "Russian experts are studying why the two
state-of-the art Russian-built radar systems in Syria did not detect the
Israeli jets entering Syrian territory. Iran reportedly has asked the same
question, since it is buying the same systems and might have paid for the
The system in question is thought to be the new Tor-M1 launchers which
carries eight missiles as well as two of the Pachora-2A system. Iran bought
29 of the Tor launchers from Russia for $750 million to guard its nuclear
sites, and they were delivered in Jan., according to Agency France-Press and
ITAR-TASS. Syrian press reports they were tested in February. They also are
expected to form a formidable system when used with the longer-range
S-300/SA-10 which Iran has been trying to buy from Russia. Syria has
operated SA-6s for years and more recently has been negotiating with
Russians for the Tor-M1. What systems were actually guarding the Syrian site
are not known.
+ David A. Fulghum is Senior Military Editor at Aviation Week & Space
Technology with expertise in operations, science, radar and intelligence.