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Published in Press Stream:
November 13, 2015

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Published in Stream:
November 13, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Dismisses Claims S-400 Missiles Deployed In Syria, But Photos Do Show Component Radar
5 years
Stream: November 13, 2015
Publication: Putin in Syria
Video Appears To Show White Phosphorus Use As Russian Jets Pound Idlib

The Russian Ministry of Defence today dismissed media reports that the S-400 anti-aircraft missile system has been deployed to the Hmeemeem airbase near Latakia.

As we reported yesterday, an influential pro-Kremlin microblogger pointed out the presence of parts of the system in a photo released by the MOD:

The story was picked up by various media outlets, including Britain's Daily Mail and The Times of Israel.

Today the MOD suggested journalists "should have looked the system up on Wikipedia."

Certain statements regarding our airbase, which regularly come up in foreign publications, are at the very least confusing, if not laughable. We would like to believe that these fairy tales are published for the sake of self-advertisement.

Before scaring the British and the whole world by talking about the deployment of our S-400 AA missile system, they should have looked the system up on Wikipedia or the Ministry of Defence website. Then the editors of this agency would know how many elements this missile system comprises and how much space it would have taken to deploy it.

We have been working together with the journalists at the Hmeymim airbase for three days now. They have been given an opportunity to see everything here for themselves, including air defence means of the base. There has never been S-400 AA system here. This is a clear misinformation.

In the MOD photograph we can see three radar antennae:

151113-mod.png

On the left is an ultra-high frequency radar, possibly a Kasta 2E1 series, derived from the Flat Face radar system. 

KASTA-2E_TM-2012_17.JPG

The elliptical dish in the middle appears to be part of the Side Net family, used to determine aircraft altitude.

30.jpg

Both radar systems have long formed part of Russia's air defence network, used for directing both anti-aircraft batteries and interceptors.

However the third radar system, on the right, is much more unusual.

A clearer view of it is available in BBC footage from the base, taken on November 11:

151113-bbc-latakia-rls.png

This appears to be an RLS-96LE 3D acquisition radar:

96L6E-Deployed-Missiles.ru-3S.jpg

As already reported, this radar forms part of the S-400 system:

%D1%81-400.jpg

The manufacturer of the system, Almaz-Antey, says on their website that the RLS 96L6E can also operate as part of the S-300 PMU1 and PMU2, late, advanced versions of the S-300, from which the S-400 was developed.

Up until now, the only surface-to-air missile systems identified in Latakia by Dr Igor Sutyagin of the Royal United Services Institute are Pantsir-S1s. 

The question then is whether the radar system is deployed independently of a missile battery. Perhaps the system is merely providing further radar data so as to try to spot any US stealth fighters that enter its range, or to provide further targeting data for the S-300-armed Moskva cruiser, which is deployed off the Syrian coast. We will continue to investigate this issue.

Quite what the MOD means by saying that the scale of the system prevents its deployment to the base we do not know. Journalists may well have been prevented from reaching some areas of the large airbase and its surrounds. Certainly the tour would have been managed by Russian military representatives.

-- Pierre Vaux