Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said “S-400 will be deployed on Khmeimim airbase in Syria.”
On November 24, two Turkey F-16s shot down a Russian Su-24 at the Turkish-Syrian border, killing one of the two pilots. The second pilot was rescued by Russian combat search and rescue (CSAR) and now back at the Latakia airfield.
In addition to the deployment of S-400 air defense system, Russia will deploy fighter jets along its Su-24 bombers to provide aerial cover. The Moskva missile cruiser, off the coast of Syria, will also provide air cover with its S-300F and 4K33 OSA-MA surface-to-air missiles.
The S-400 is a state-of-the-art air defence missile system capable of hitting targets up to 400 kilometres with its 40N6 active radar homing head missile. The S-400 can engage tactical and strategic aircraft as well as ballistic and cruise missiles.
Moscow remains firm on its statement that its Su-24 never violated the Turkish airspace while Turkey filed a formal complaint with the United Nations Security Council through its Ambassador. The incident triggered a suspension of all military-to-military with Turkey and possible reprisal from Russia.
The Khmeimim airbase in Latakia, Syria accommodates many Russian Air Force squadrons, including both fixed- and rotor-wing squadrons.
The Russian fixed-wing aircraft includes:
- Su-27SM fighter aircraft;
- Su-30 fighter aircraft;
- Su-34 tactical bomber;
- Su-24 tactical bomber;
- Su-25 close air support aircraft.
Aside the soon-to-be deployed S-400, the airbase is protected by state-of-the-art air defence systems and radars. Maintenance crews and logistical support is also deployed on the airbase to keep Russian aircraft serviceable.
With the deployment of S-400, Russia is bolstering its air defense capability and sends a clear message to the U.S.-led coalition and US-backed rebels about its willingness to defend its presence in Syria no matter what the situation is.