Syrian Air Defense Force

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Syrian Arab Air Defence Force
Founded 1969
Service branches Air Defense Force
Headquarters Damascus
President of Syria Bashar al-Assad
Available for
military service
4,356,413 (2005 est.), age 15–49
Fit for
military service
3,453,888 (2005 est.), age 15–49
Reaching military
age annually
225,113 (2005 est.)
Active personnel 40,000
Reserve personnel 20,000
Deployed personnel 40,000
Foreign suppliers  Russia

The Syrian Air Defense Force is an independent command within the Syrian Armed Forces. It has been merged into and then separated from both the Syrian Arab Army and the Syrian Arab Air Force. The Syrian Air Defense Force controls four air defense corps, eleven air defense Divisions and thirty-six air defense brigades, each with six SAM battalions. It is equipped with 650 static SA-2, SA-3 and SA-5 launchers, 200 mobile SA-6 and SA-11 launchers and over 4,000 anti-aircraft guns ranging from 23mm to 100mm in caliber. There are also two independent SA-8 and SA-10 SAM Regiments, each with four batteries of 48 mobile SAMs.

The Syrian early warning system comprises Long Track; P-12 Spoon Rest; P-14 Tall King; H-15 Flat Face; P-30 Big Mesh; P-35 Bar Lock; P-80; PRV-13; PRV-16 Thin Skin mobile and static radar sites throughout Syria.

Current structure and organization[edit]

SA-6 launcher near the Beirut-Damascus highway, overlooking the Bekaa Valley, in early 1982.

25 teams defense (130 batteries) Including:

  • Self-propelled
    • 62 batteries:
      • 11 teams - 27 batteries - SA-6 Gainful (PU SAM 2K12 Square);
      • 14 Battery - SA-8 Gecko (PU SAM 9K33 Osa);
      • 12 Battery - SA-22 Greyhound (96K6 Pantsyr S1E);
      • 9 Battery - Buk-M2
  • Towed
    • 11 teams - 60 batteries with SA-2 Guideline (CP-75 Dvina / S-75M Volga) and SA-3 Goa (S-125 Neva / S-125M Pechora) (Being upgraded);
  • Two SAM regiment with SA-5 Gammon(in each brigade to 2 divisions for 2 batteries each).
    • Four SAM battalion
      • Eight Static/Shelter SAM batteries
  • Two independent SAM Regiment
    • Four SAM batteries with SA-8
    • Four SAM batteries with SA-10


Combat history[edit]

In October from 1973 the Syrian air defense (SyADF) shot down 102 Israeli warplanes using mostly the 2K12 Kub (SA-6) SAMs.

In 1982, Israel claim 19 of 20 batteries—each battery consisting of five tanks and each tank equipped with three SA-6 missiles were wiped out in Operation Mole Cricket 19, the SyADF claimed shot down 43 Israeli warplanes over Lebanon the same year.

On 22 June 2012 Syrian Air Defence Force shot down a Turkish McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II reconnaissance jet. The jet's pilots were killed; both Turkish and Syrian forces searched for them before recovering their bodies in early July. The incident greatly escalated the tensions between Turkey and Syria.[9]

In mid-November 2013, Turkish sources claimed the SyADF targeted, for ten seconds, three Turkish F-16s that were flying near Dörtyol, over southern Hatay province after deploying from the Incirlik and Merzifon airbases.[10] The incident comes after a Turkish F-16 shot down a Syrian Mi-17 on September 16 after Turkey claimed it crossed into Turkish airspace in the same area.[11]

In the afternoon of 7 December 2014, two formations composed by two Israeli Air Force F-15I's each, fired Popeye missiles to two separate target sites in Syria. Syrian air defense Buk-M2 missile batteries fired two missiles at the incoming attack planes, both were jammed and two Pechora 2M missiles were hastily launched at the four incoming Popeye missiles, shooting one down.[12]

The day 23 August 2015 Iranians sources claimed the SyADF shot down a Israeli Warplane in Quneitra Governorate near Israel border during air strikes on Syrian Army positions.[13]

Further reading[edit]

  • Kenneth M. Pollack, Arabs at War: Military Effectiveness 1948-91, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln and London, 2002, and Pollack's book reviewed in International Security, Vol. 28, No.2.