Russian missile defense system looks suspect after US Syria attack

J.R. Dunn:

The immediate Russian reaction was telling – a claim that the S-400 had shot down no fewer than 70 of the attacking missiles, including all of the U.S. models. (Evidently, this line is still being pushed by domestic Russian media.)

Since this claim fell apart under the weight of its own absurdity, a number of other excuses have popped up: that the U.S. cheated by flying missiles over Lebanon (this is something widely known as "tactics") or that the Russians failed to carry out any interceptions out of politeness. Both of these, needless to say, contradict the original Russian claim.

Western think-tank spokesmen have rushed to support these claims:
The logic tree suggests we should avoid any hard conclusions, or be a little too triumphal about our ability to penetrate the S-400.
All the same, further evidence of the failure of the S-400 has appeared with the news that the Russians have rushed a shipment of the S-300 anti-aircraft system to Syria. While the media are playing this up as a potential delivery to the Assad government, the logic tree here suggests that it's an effort by the Russians to bolster their own anti-aircraft assets in the wake of the collapse of the S-400.

The S-300 is a precursor system to the S-400, first deployed in 1979 and nowhere near as advanced, but at least it's known to be able to shoot down targets. While the Russians may have vague notions of turning the system over to the Syrians eventually – where it will shortly be bombed out of existence by Israel – there's little doubt that its primary purpose is to take over from the S-400 – one of a long line of Russian super-weapons that somehow just didn't work out.
The Russians have been caught in several contradictory claims since the issue of the WMD attack first arose.  The first said it did not happen and then later accused the Brits of being behind the attack.  In this case, they issued statements that were later published by left-wing publications claiming several hits of US missiles and that too was proved false.   It should be noted that the S-400 has also been defeated by the Israelis on more than one occasion.


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