Why Syria Isn’t Firing Its S-300 Missiles at Israeli Jets

The hundreds of attacks against Iranian targets and Hezbollah in Syria carried out by the Israel Air Force, are generally considered by pundits to be its most important achievement in the “campaign between the wars.” That is the name of the 21st-century campaign being waged by the Israel Defense Forces and the intelligence community against increasingly powerful enemies, including Iran, Syria and, according to foreign publications, Iraq (in the past similar activity in Sudan was attributed to Israel), and terror organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS in Syria and, according to the same sources, in Sinai as well.

But no less impressive and important is the considerable experience acquired by the IAF's pilots and its aerial control, aerial intelligence and electronic warfare systems, in defending and evading the anti-aircraft batteries of the Syrian army.

Over the past seven years – the first attack attributed to Israel took place in April 2013 – Syrian anti-aircraft systems have launched a minimum of about 700 missiles at IAF warplanes.

One missile shot down an F-16 fighter jet. The pilot and his navigator ejected and were evacuated to an Israeli hospital for treatment. That incident occurred in 2018, when the jet was flying in northern Israel, on a mission of defense during an attack on an Iranian command vehicle that had launched a drone at Israel from Syria. The downing of the plane was more of an IDF error than a Syrian success.

Haaretz / AP

On average, the Syrians have fired about 100 missiles a year at IAF aircraft. This indicates that Syria's aerial defense forces fire a substantial number of missile barrages at every attacking plane. The arena is not only full of Syrian missiles, but also has crowded skies in which the air forces of the United States, Great Britain and France operate against ISIS, as well as Russian and Turkish aircraft.

These circumstances highlight even further the successful identification, maneuvering, evasion and disruption capabilities of the IAF's pilots and control systems. Massive Syrian missile fire has enabled the IAF to accumulate greater knowhow and experience in this field than any other air force in the world, including the U.S. Air Force, which also participates in assault missions in Syria and Iraq. Israel shares its experience and knowledge in this sphere with its counterparts in friendly countries.

IAF abilities