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Latest US/allied strike on Syria

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A great deal of firepower appears to have been expended against a rather limited target set.


Only the Barzah R&D facility appears to have merited a significant proportion of the weapons assigned, being a collection of large buildings, and the target does appear to have been flattened, but even so, 76 of the 105 missiles? Wowsers.


This suggests to me that (1) the US/UK/France had built into the weaponeering plan a serious hedge against missile failure and interception; or (2) there were other targets not identified in the OSI briefing?


The Russian version of events suggests the following:


4x missiles targeted Damascus International Airport

12x targeted Dumayr AB, east of Damascus (associated with the most recent CW attack), but all were shot down

18x targeted Marj Ruhayil (Bulay) AB, south of Damascus

12x targeted Shayrat AB (the airfield targeted in last year's strike), but all were shot down

9x targeted Mezzeh military airport but 5x were shot down

16x targeted Homs "aerodrome" but 13x were shot down

30x targeted facilities related to Syria's alleged CW program in Barzeh and Jaramana, and 7x missiles were shot down

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Briefing by Russian Defence Ministry official Major General Igor Konashenkov (April 16, 2018)




As it was promised, the Russian Defence Ministry analyzed effectiveness of missile and bomb strike made by the United States, Great Britain, and France on Syria as well as actions held by Syrian air defence units.
It is to be reminded that on April 14 from 3.42 a.m. to 5.10 a.m. (MSK) different objects of the Syrian Arab Republic were attacked air and sea-based missile carriers of the United States and allies.
The cruise missile strikes were delivered from the areas of the Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, al-Tanf illegally controlled by the US troops.
Radar systems of the Syrian Arab Republic tracked 103 air targets.

Real targets of the strikes made by the US, Great Britain, and France on April 14 were not only objects in Barza and Jaramana but also Syrian military objects, including airfields.
The Syrian Arab Army used S-200, S-125, Osa, Kvadart, Buk, and Strela air defence systems in order to repel this missile strike.
It is to be stressed that Soviet designed systems were produced more than 40 years ago.
The government troops also actively used the Russia-made Pantsyr air defence system, which had been received by the SAA earlier.
This system during the anti-aircraft battle showed almost 100 percent efficiency.
It is to be stressed that Syrian air defence system was organized on the principle of object defence. Almost all objects protected by air defence systems repelled the strike.
In total, the Syrian AD systems eliminated 71 cruise missiles of 103 ones.
Four missiles targeted the Damascus International Airport; 12 missiles – the Al-Dumayr airdrome, all the missiles have been shot down.
18 missiles targeted the Blai airdrome, all the missiles shot down.
12 missiles targeted the Shayrat airbase, all the missiles shot down.
Two missiles targeted the Tiyas airfield, all the missiles shot down.
Five out of nine missiles were shot down targeting the unoccupied Mazzeh airdrome.
Thirteen out of sixteen missiles were shot down targeting the Homs airdrome. There are no heavy destructions.
Almost 30 missiles and corrected air bombs were targeted research-and-development objects located near Barza and Jaramana. Five of them were hit by Syrian AD systems.
In total, Syrian air defence systems fired 112 air defence missiles.
Pantsyr AD system fired 25 missiles and hit 24 targets;
Buk system fired 29 missiles and hit 24 targets;
Osa system fired 11 and hit 5 targets;
S-125 system fired 13 missiles and hit 5 targets;
Strela-10 system fired 5 missiles and hit 3 targets;
Kvadrat system fired 21 and hit 11 targets;
S-200 system fired 8 and hit no targets.
It is to be added that no one should be misled by low results made by S-200 air defence missile systems.
This system is primarily designed to hit aircraft. However, this system shot down a fighter of a neighboring country. The aircraft took efforts to intrude airspace of the Syrian Arab Republic.
The rest systems showed very high efficiency despite high speed of targets and extremely small radar-cross section.

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Interesting statements concerning how many missiles / bombs were shot down. So what figures would you view as credible?


The Russians claim 112 SAMs fired against 103 targets. The claimed pK rates are:


68.9% overall

SA-22 (Pantsyr AD): 96% (24 of 25 targets)

SA-11 (Buk): 82.7% (24 of 29)

SA-8 (Osa): 45% (5 of 11)

SA-3 (S-125): 38% (5 of 13)

SA-13 (Strela-10): 60% (3 of 5)

SA-6 (Kvadrat): 52% (11 of 22)

SA-5 (S-200): 0% (0 for 8)


As mentioned earlier, I think either the US/allies really wanted to smash the chosen three targets (and it appears the Barzah R&D facility in particular received a LOT of attention, including 57 TLAMs and 19 JASSMs) OR there were other targets in play.


Him Shinshar CW storage was supposed to have received 22 missiles, including 9 TLAMs, 8 Storm Shadows, three MdCN missiles and two SCALP missiles.


7 SCALPs were said to have been assigned to the Him Shinshar bunker complex.


Curiously, the released post strike imagery shows three marked aimpoints at each of these two sites. Given the numbers assigned to each site, it sounds like the weaponeers assigned a minimum of at least two missiles to each aimpoint across the board. Probably more to account for failures and contingencies.


If you impute an actual failure rate of at least 5%, and that is probably a little conservative, probably six missiles failed somewhere in flight or missed their target altogether. It seems to me that is still not nearly enough to account for the BDA or the weaponeering, so I do think there were other targets in play.


So why not tell the public what targets they were, and which ones?


If I had to guess what they were, I would have to include Al Dumayr airfield. After all, that is where the two Mi-8 Hip helicopters alleged to have been involved in the Douma chemical attack came from. Mind you, helicopters are easily moved around or hidden if you know there is an impending strike. Still, I think DOD would have included Al Dumayr, if only to send a message (as with Shayrat last year).


I also would not be surprised if there were other CW sites targeted. Russia claims 30 missiles assigned here, and 7 shot down.


Why not say so? I don't have good answers here. Other than perhaps the air defences around sites like Al Dumayr were enhanced, and did manage to bring down some incoming missiles (probably TLAMs). I don't think the numbers are anywhere close to what the Russians claim.


The other consideration is that there may have been air launched decoys in play (e.g. MALD). Some of these may have been Russian 'kills'.


Keep in mind as well that the Israelis apparently took advantage of the moment to carry out some strikes of their own, which might be included in Russian numbers. They may also have used air launched decoys.

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It's all quite confusing. The Russian figures are clearly overblown (seems they are trying to market the Pantsyr!). And I fully agree that only a few targets were mentioned and clearly way too many missiles per target were allocated. So yes, the West probably knew about the defenses. What also is kind of confusing for me is why such a different variety of weapons were used per target. It surely didn't make coordination of the strikes easier.

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The TV images of target sites appear to show buildings or bunkers that are substantial concrete structures. I can only imagine it might take multiple hits to guarantee complete or "mission kill" destruction.


There's no doubt about that. In the case of the Barzah R&D center, they assigned 76,000 lb of penetrating high explosive warhead. That is a LOT.

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