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Thu April 14, 2016

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Russian aircraft shot down despite President-S system
DEBKAfile Exclusive Report April 13, 2016, 9:05 AM (IDT)
Tags: Russian forces in Syria, Russian warplanes, Russian military operations in Syria, Syrian
rebels, Syrian war, MANPADS,

( Russias Mi-28H attack helicopter )


The Russian Defense Ministry announced on April 12 the crash of a Russian Mi-28H attack
helicopter near the city of Homs the previous night. The two pilots were killed in the crash, and
their bodies were recovered by Russian special forces who transferred them to Hmeimim airbase
in northern Syria. The ministry asserted that the helicopter was not shot down but debkafiles
intelligence and aviation sources doubt that claim.
The helicopter that crashed in Homs was the fourth Russian-made military aircraft to be shot
down during the last 30 days by advanced shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles possessed by the
Nusra Front, ISIS and other groups of fighters.
The speculation that terrorist organizations in Syria, and apparently in Iraq, possess such missiles
capable of overcoming the defenses of Russian aircraft became reality when the Mi-28H
helicopter was shot down on April 11. The aircraft is equipped with the most advanced defensive
system of its kind, the President-S, which is resistant to active and passive jamming.
The system also known as the L370-5 includes a warning system installed on four external points
of every aircraft, radar and command and control system that can identify incoming shoulderfired missiles and cause them to deviate from their paths.
The defense system protects the helicopter from previous generations of such missiles, such as
the Strela-2 and Strela-3. But it remains vulnerable to more advanced missiles and that is the
reason why the rebels and terror groups have been able to shoot down four Russian-made aircraft
in Syria.
On March 12, a MIG-21 of the Syrian air force was shot down with two shoulder-fired
antiaircraft missiles that locked onto the heat signature of the plane. Fighters from the Jaysh alNasr rebel group operating in the village of Kafr Nabudah, in the area of the city of Hama,
downed the plane and then killed the pilots after they ejected and reached the ground.
Another Syrian air force plane, a Sukhoi 22, was shot down on April 5 near Aleppo using a
single MANPADS (Man-portable air-defense systems) missile, apparently an advanced one, fired
by fighters from Al Qaeda affiliate the Nusra Front. One of the pilots was killed on the ground,
while the other, Khaled Saeed, was taken prisoner.
In yet another recent downing of a Russian-made military aircraft, ISIS announced on April 11
that it had shot down a Sukhoi 22 that had taken off from al-Dumayr Airport in the eastern
suburbs of Damascus. The fighters used an SA-7 Strela missile with an infrared heat-seeking
warhead, considered relatively out of date.
Western intelligence services have no idea how many shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles are in
the arsenals of Syrian rebel groups and terrorist organizations. There is no doubt that those
weapons pose a major and immediate threat to commercial aviation in Israel and throughout the
Middle East.