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F-35 fighter and S-400 missile system will face each other in Syria in coming weeks

This post was published in Svpressa. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.

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WASHINGTON, (BM) – As it became known, in July, an F-35 test fighter should be delivered to Israel from the USA specifically for tests against the anti-aircraft missile system, which is available at the Russian Khmeimim air base in Syria.

That is, the competition is not virtual, but in real combat conditions.

The fight will be interesting – the best fighter in the world [according to the USA] against the best anti-aircraft missile system to date [this is a generally accepted opinion]. This is not even a test, but a test of the combat qualities of an aircraft made using stealth technology, which must overcome the S-400 defense system and prove the superiority of the F-35. A risky venture, but if successful, the United States will receive a kind of “quality mark” for a fighter whose reputation has been tarnished more than once.

And if the fight takes place, then the S-400 will also have the opportunity in real conditions to confirm its capabilities in detecting and destroying a rather complex aerial target. Lightning vs. Triumph – bet on it, gentlemen.

Israel as a “test bench” was not chosen by chance. The combat aircraft of this country periodically inflicts air strikes on Syria, on objects where, as they believe in Tel Aviv, Hezbollah and Iranian military units are located. From the Israeli Nevatim F-35 air base, they can carry out tasks without refueling in the airspace of Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, in most of Egypt and Iran, as well as in parts of the territories of Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

The Israeli Air Force already has 20 F-35 fighters and is ready to order a batch of 25 more of these aircraft to replace existing ones. At the same time, they are considering the possibility of acquiring modernized F-15 fighters as more reliable and efficient. Therefore, the United States in practice intends to demonstrate to the partners the combat capabilities of the F-35 precisely in overcoming modern air defense systems. In general, the place for testing was chosen almost perfect.

Whether Israel will be happy to participate in the battle with the S-400 is a big question. The alleged attack should go to the Russian base in Khmeimim, which the Israelis had not previously allowed themselves, knowing full well that the “otvetochka” would arrive immediately. In addition, this country already had experience of losing the F-35, which participated in airstrikes on the territory of Syria.

In October 2017, exactly when Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu was on an official visit to Tel Aviv, a message was received from the Israeli media that the “invisibility” collided with two storks during a training flight and became unsuitable for further exploitation. According to the Syrian side, the Israeli F-35 was attacked by air defense systems – the S-200 anti-aircraft missile system, developed in the USSR back in 1964.

Israeli pilots are unlikely to want to compete with the American S-400 Russian fighter planes on American fighters, especially since the conditions of the “competition” suggest provoking air defense systems at the base in Khmeimim to open fire. In general, the idea is rather dubious, but as a PR move for the “promotion” of the F-35 it is quite tolerable – according to the Americans alone, who are ready to sacrifice their fighter for the sake of receiving valuable information about the work of the Triumph.

A risky flight should be able to identify the weaknesses of the S-400, to reveal the work of Russian radars, electronic jamming equipment. As a result – to convince Israel, and at the same time other owners of the American “miracle bird” of the correct choice for the acquisition of the F-35.

This is not the first time the United States has tried to oppose its Lightning to the Russian Triumph, each time obsessively claiming that the S-400 is powerless against the F-35. Recently, such information recently appeared for some reason in the military review of the Vietnamese edition of Dat Viet, which, with reference to the Pentagon (!), Speaks of the inefficiency of the S-400 against F-35 fighters.

The article claims that Russia had enough time to demonstrate the fact of the discovery of the F-35, when American aircraft were deliberately in the detection zone of radar facilities near Syria. “On several occasions when Russia and China claimed that their radars captured the F-35 while operating at a distance equivalent to a fourth-generation fighter, the United States took a deliberate act to conceal the true capabilities of the stealth aircraft,” the military review said. The Vietnamese authors, however, forgot to mention a historical fact – that out of 895 American planes shot down during the war of 1964-1975, Soviet-made S-75 Desna air defense systems also had a hand in these statistics.

In general, when the American “invisibility” is still seen, it is believed that this is done on purpose. It does not take into account the fact that the Russian S-400 in Syria was deployed in Hmeimim not to protect the Syrian sky, but exclusively to cover bases from the air in Khmeimim and in the port of Tartus.

And who they “see” there, in the Pentagon they can only guess or, on the contrary, not at all – the Russian side is not going to report about it. It is necessary to take into account the nuance that the Russian Air Force is strictly forbidden to attack Israeli or any other military aircraft if they do not pose an immediate danger to the Russian military in this country.

An order to open fire can only be given by Russian President Vladimir Putin or Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. It is likely that there is also a certain instruction in case of unforeseen circumstances, which can become a provocative flight to the subject’s Khmeimim F-35.

The United States has already deployed its F-35As in the Middle East – according to some sources, 6 such fighters arrived in the UAE, the Americans themselves claim the transfer of 4 aircraft. All F-22 Raptor were relocated from this region and the Lightnings replaced them. It is alleged that they will expand the antiterrorist capabilities of the Western coalition led by the United States in Syria and Iraq, as well as Afghanistan.

Given that the activity of ISIS in Syria has significantly decreased, the mission of the F-35A is seen not only in delivering missile and bomb attacks, but in reconnaissance. More precisely, to counteract the Russian [in Syria] and Iranian electronic warfare systems, to “probe” the missile defense and air defense systems deployed here.

The Americans do not hide the fact that they intend to arrange a “bashing” for the Russians and to prove their superiority in the capabilities of aviation. The F-35A was not chosen as an “awesome force” – the laudatory PR of this fighter has not really been supported by anything special and it needs additional promotion.

What will happen if the Americans really try “to the teeth” with their F-35 Russian base “Khmeimim”? Oddly enough, the S-400 will not be involved in this situation. Rather, only the potential of their radar will be used to detect enemy aircraft, but it’s unlikely that they will reach missile launches unless a direct attack on the air base or port of Tartus follows. Enough of other opportunities to discourage uninvited guests. Surely the mobile complex EW “Krasukha-4”, which is available in Khmeimim, will be involved.

The United States is well aware of its capabilities – the American publication Breaking Defense several months ago reported that the US military published a report according to which Russian electronic warfare systems caused damage to two of its F-35 and F-22 fighters. The planes came under powerful radio-electronic influence and lost their orientation in the sky over Syria, they had to urgently connect backup systems.

Earlier, in 2018, Kraukha nearly “burned” a Boeing E-3A Sentry AWACS military reconnaissance aircraft, which collected information about the Russian Khmeimim air base and tried to track the movement of the S-300 Favorit systems deployed in Syria. Being in the airspace between Cyprus and the Syrian coast, the aircraft was exposed to the EW complex, which led to the breakdown of a number of systems. The Pentagon also lost several drones; the S-130 Hercules military transport aircraft nearly crashed due to the failure of the main electronic systems.

Faced with the Israeli F-35 and the Russian Su-35S fighters [belong to the 4 ++ generation), which are also based on the Khmeimim air base. At the end of August 2019, the Israeli Air Force launched an airstrike on the pro-Iranian Hezbollah units in Syria.

At the same time, the Israeli edition of Debka reported that there should have been a second missile strike, but it had to be canceled. The reason was the Russian Su-35, which took off and flew over the border regions of Syria with Israel and Lebanon. Israeli F-35 fighter pilots felt that they had little chance of a close air battle with the Su-35S and decided not to risk it.

In general, the American Lightning is unlikely to compete directly with the Triumph, as they conceived for propaganda purposes – they will neutralize it even at distant approaches. And here’s another question: will an American or an Israeli pilot get into the cockpit of an F-35 fighter who happens to go to Khmeimim? Who will accept the role of kamikaze?

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