Syria got more than S-300 from Russia, how will the other AD systems now be used?
The Syrian military received more than just two dozen S-300 systems as part of the air defense reinforcement package sent by Russia almost two months ago; other shorter-range, but equally sophisticated, anti-aircraft missile systems were also delivered.
These other air defense systems are, despite their significantly shorter range, actually critical in relation to allowing the S-300 to reach peak performance in the event of a large-scale air attack against Syria.
Specifically, the other additional systems that were received include Buk-M2E, Pantsir-S and, reportedly, even Tor (this is, however, unconfirmed).
With the exception of the Tor, which again is unconfirmed, the Pantsir-S and Buk-M2E are already in Syrian military service and were proven in combat during the April 2018 American-British-French cruise missile attack, achieving an interception rate of 96 percent and 82 percent respectively (even then not all the Buk systems used were of the more advanced M2E model).
Another factor is that the Buk-M and Pantsir-S systems are both completely interoperable with the S-300’s main and secondary radars; effectively, whatever the S-300 can see, track and lock-on to, these other systems can too.
Whist the S-300 does employ missile variants that can effectively engage air threats within a 50 kilometer radius, the system’s most efficient use (particularly in regards to missile cost) is to engage long range targets (beyond 100 kilometers at the very least) and this is where the other systems come into play.
In the event of a large-scale air attack against Syria involving a combination of cruise missiles and strike aircraft, systems such as Buk-M2E and Pantsir-S will uphold an air-denial envelope between 45 kilometers to 5 kilometers, allowing the S-300 to do what it does best, engage the long-range targets and keep pilots of aircraft armed with anti-radiation missiles (to knock out radar sites) thinking twice about making an attack run.
In all of this, the Tor system, if indeed it really has been delivered to the Syrian military, would be the final piece of the puzzle for it will be able provide terminal-range air defense against missiles which slip past all the main air denial area to within five kilometers of an asset to be defended.