Damascus Talks Peace, Bids for Sophisticated Military Hardware

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When Damascus confirmed peace talks with Israel on May 21, a secret high-powered military purchasing delegation, headed by air force-air defenses commander Gen. Akhmad Ratyb, was already in Moscow. With a $5 billion allocation in hand from Tehran, the delegation was bidding for the most advanced products of Russia’s munitions industry.
The six main categories of interest to Damascus are disclosed by DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources as –
1. The latest model of the Russian Iskander-E, a surface-to-surface tactical missile with a range of 280 km and a 480-kilo warhead. This missile is considered one of the most advanced of its type in the world today, partly because of its cruise attributes which enable it to home in on target undetected and with high precision. Iskander-E can be guided by pilot-less air vehicles or satellites.
2. Fifty of the latest MiG-29SMT fighter-bombers. The Russians have added advanced avionics and electronics and lengthened the warplane’s operational range. It can fly 3,700 kilometers without refueling, and 6,700 kilometers with in-flight fueling. Their purchase therefore goes with Russian refueling aircraft.
3. The Pantsir S1E air defense missile systems. Syria has already received nine or ten batteries but Moscow has held up the rest of the 36-missile order at American insistence after part of the first consignment was transferred to Iran.
4. Damascus wants 800 Strelets short-range anti-air missiles. The Igla-S version, our military sources report, is shoulder-borne and able to hit surface-to-surface and cruise missiles. Damascus has informed Moscow that the vehicle-mounted version is acceptable for deployment along the Syrian-Israeli border as a defense against Israeli missiles.
5. A key component on the list is 75 Yak-130 light combat-cum-training planes.
As a fighter craft for short distances, the Yak-130 is reputed to be one of the most effective of its type in any of the world’s air forces.
The fact that it has been commissioned by Syria points to heavy investment, with the active help of Russian military experts, in creating a defense system for halting an Israeli invasion.
The Yak-130 is an integral element of the combat equipment in Russian armored divisions. Syria will be able to use this fleet of 75 light combat craft to shield its armored divisions against Israel’s tank hunters, the Cobra and Blackhawk choppers.
The Yak-130 outclasses the Israeli choppers in speed, maneuverability and firepower.
5. Syria wants to buy two Amur-1650 submarines, whose features compare with the Israel Navy’s German-made Dolphins, which are capable of firing cruise missiles.
The Amur-class submarine can strike salvo missile blows at different targets. This is its outstanding feature. Its sonar signature level is considerably less than the Kilo-class vessels which are reputedly the most silent in the world.
Amur subs can operate in all the world’s seas excepting those under solid ice cover, in all weather conditions and in shallow or deep water.

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