The Russian military has deployed its sophisticated S-400 missile battery and radar array in Syria, a Russian state-run media outlet claimed Thursday.
Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had announced Wednesday that the system would be deployed in Latakia, in northwest Syria, in response to Turkey shooting down a Russian warplane the day before.
This nigh-impossible speed that would be required to bring in and activate the system in barely 24 hours has prompted some to question whether the S-400 system had been in place well before the Turkish military shot down the Su-24M aircraft, or if it is in place at all.
The advanced missile system, completed in 2007, is capable of detecting and destroying aircraft some 400 kilometers (250 miles) away. Its deployment in Latakia will grant Russia aerial control over practically all of Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus, over half of Turkey, parts of Iraq and Jordan — and, of course, Israel: Planes flying in and out of Ben Gurion International Airport — approximately 395 kilometers (245 miles) from Latakia — would be within Russian sights.
“Do we have something to fear? The answer is: yes and no,” Russia expert Zvi Magen told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.
“If [the S-400] is indeed deployed,” Magen explained before Moscow’s state-run media announced the system’s deployment, “it will be a game-changer.”
The head of the US Air Force Central Command, Lt. Gen. Charles Brown Jr., downplayed the missile system’s influence.