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Russia: The Losers Lament
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September 30, 2007: The September 6 Israeli air raid in Syria has been a major setback for Russian arms sales. The Syrians had invested heavily in new Russian air defense systems, and the Israelis apparently brushed right by them. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russians have been trying to rehabilitate the reputation of their weapons. Throughout the Cold War, whenever Russian and Western (especially American) weapons met on the battlefield, the Russians lost. The Soviets tried to compete on price, but even "free" was not low enough for many countries. Using Soviet weapons came to be seen as a sure ticket to battlefield defeat. In the 1990s, Russia upgraded its manufacturing capabilities, and its weapons designs. Much Western technology was imported. By the late 1990s, sales were climbing. OK, the Iraqis went down real quick in 2003, but they didn't have any of the new stuff, nor did the Taliban in 2001. Sales continued to climb, until now. Russias arms customers are asking for answers, but so far the Syrian incident is being dismissed as nothing to worry about. The Russians believe that most of their customers have little choice. That may be true of China and Iran, but India is increasingly looking West for modern arms. And so are many other smaller customers. This even extends to commercial products. Sukhoi, which makes the Su-27/30, recently rolled out the first new Russian airliner since 1991. The "Superjet" is a 95 seat transport competing with the Boeing 727. It has only a dozen foreign orders.  The "Syrian Incident" may prove to be not-so-minor after all.

 

September 29, 2007: The anti-corruption campaign is having a hard time. There are still many gangs for hire, that will murder and intimidate businessmen and government officials, who refuse to go along with scams. The sheer number of these gangs, and the huge market for their services, makes them difficult to stamp out. Many of these gangsters have done favors for the secret police (formerly KGB, now FSB), and this gives them a degree of immunity.

 

September 26, 2007:  Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, is facing renewed violence from two separatist groups who control part of the country with Russian help. Georgia claims they killed a Russian officer in a recent clash with the separatists.

 

September 21, 2007:  In the south, police cornered and killed Rappani Khalilov, who was the leader of Islamic terrorists in Dagestan. Many Islamic terrorists from neighboring Chechnya have fled to Dagestan, to escape the Chechen led, but pro-Russian,  government in Chechnya.  Khalilov was the most wanted terrorist in southern Russia. Islamic radicals have become a powerful force in the Caucasus, especially in placed like Dagestan. There, the Islamic terrorists have been intimidating, and murdering, more moderate religious leaders. By controlling the mosques, the Islamic radicals secure themselves bases for support and recruiting.

 

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displacedjim       9/30/2007 9:19:48 AM
While it certainly wouldn't bother me a bit if this raid for some reason put a crimp in Russian air defense arms sales, it certainly also would be illogical for it to do so.  In the last several years Syria has acquired very little Russian air defense equipment, certainly not on anything that actually could have touched the Israeli jets.  Basically only an ignoramous or a moron would actually think this event proves anything regarding modern Russian air defense equipment.
 
 
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jason237m       9/30/2007 9:51:20 AM
while I would agree that the Syrians did not have the latest Russian stuff, there always seems to be excuses for why the Russian gear always loses.  RESULTS count more than excuses and rock bottom pricing (even when those excuses are valid). 
 
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Beryoza       9/30/2007 10:29:39 AM
I think the article may be referring to the Pantsirs, which are certainly highly capable SHORADS. Syria took delivery of her first batch in August (I think). On their own, though, they are not much of a threat to the Israelis or anybody.
 
Furthermore, the readiness of the crews at the time of the raid is questionable, seeing as they had less than a month to familiarize themselves with the Pantsir. Nonetheless, I can see why some people would claim that the Russian AD kit failed to live up to the hype, though this is an erronous belief IMO
 
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dont_tread       9/30/2007 3:38:53 PM

I think the article may be referring to the Pantsirs, which are certainly highly capable SHORADS. Syria took delivery of her first batch in August (I think). On their own, though, they are not much of a threat to the Israelis or anybody.
so if these air defense weapons aren't a threat to anyone, why are the russians manufacturing them?
answer: they sell impotent, ineffective weapons today in order to raise capital for their arms industries. In this way they can claim two benefits. One, they keep the companies in businsess that develop and produce the more capable AD weapons of the future. Two, they can stoke their nationalist egos and convince themselve that they are still relevant in the weapons sales arena.
 
the russians benefit from these deceptive marketing and sales techniques while the buyers finance russian R&D and are left with junk.
 
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displacedjim       9/30/2007 8:28:16 PM
1) Syria doesn't have any PANTsIR. Here are two important safety tips: Don't do drugs and stop reading DEBKA. 
 
2) Even if they did, PANTsIR can't reach fighters at altitude, it's a low-altitude system. PANTsIR *IS* a deadly system?against helicopters, against many UAVs (granted they are difficult to spot), and against fighters that aren't using PGMs. Naturally in a one-time special raid like this, that won't be the case. The Israeli jets in this airstrike surely deployed PGMs from an altitude that would have been beyond the reach of any PANTsIR that could have even been in the area. 
 
3) Even if they just got them, Beryoza is right on target, and if they received a dozen TELARs last month it's quite unlikely they'd even be operational yet. Typically a tactical system like PANTsIR wouldn't even be integrated into an IADS anyway, but I will agree that in Syria's case it is reasonable to think this sort of system would be deployed around strategic targets including critical WMD facilities (presumably like whatever the Israelis bombed). 
 
4) Even if they were operational, they only have a range of something less than 10 miles. Anyone check a map of Syria lately? Here's a hint: look at the scale and then at the size of Syria. A dozen launch vehicles would probably be deployed at most to three locations. Pick three 10-mile radius circles and then see how much of Syria is left.  Odds are the site Israel bombed isn't within one of those three circles (if there even are any).
 
 
 
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Beryoza       10/1/2007 12:31:33 AM
"so if these air defense weapons aren't a threat to anyone, why are the russians manufacturing them?
answer: they sell impotent, ineffective weapons today in order to raise capital for their arms industries."
 
Re-read my post!
 
Displacedjim is 100% correct, drugs are bad for you!
 
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