After S-300 arrive, Syria finds new purpose for huge S-200 missile – report

With the Syrian Army preparing to introduce the advanced S-300 missile system into front-line service as its primary long-range air defense weapon, one Russian military expert believes that the older S-200 missile equivalent will now be modified to attack enemy ships and land targets.

Until the arrival the S-300, the older S-200 served as the main strategic-range air defense weapon of the Syrian military. However, with hostile neighbors such as Israel and Turkey now in possession of advanced fighter aircraft with highly-effective electronic countermeasure systems, the S-200 has somewhat lost its edge as a capable anti-aircraft weapon.

However, one Russian military expert, speaking through Russian media, claims that Syrian S-200 missiles – with their massive two hundred kilogram warhead and 240 kilometer range – will probably be modified to attack enemy ships and land targets.

Technically, such a modification is possible given that anti-ship guidance uses the same principal as air-aircraft guidance – that is, X-band radar.

The actual modification would not be to the missile itself, but rather to the fire control radars of the S-200 system, which will have to be upgraded with more sophisticated electronics in order filter out surface clutter – i.e.waves and sea spray in the case of ship targets or dust and trees in the case of land targets – in order to gain an effective lock on target.

Despite being an aging design, a Syrian S-200 did managed to down an Israeli F-16 fighter in February this year. Dozens of previous S-200 attempts against Israeli fighters in preceding years, however, failed to destroy any Israeli fighters – at least as far as official records show.