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Russia Claims US Plane Directed Drones Towards Airbase in Syria

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Drone Attack on Russia’s Syrian Airbase Was Elaborate Pentagon Operation, Says Expert

(Source: TASS; published Oct 25, 2018)


MOSCOW --- A drone attack on Russia’s Hmeymim airbase in Syria in January this year was an elaborate multi-purpose Pentagon operation, Editor-in-Chief of National Defense journal Igor Korotchenko told TASS on Thursday.

As Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin said at a plenary session of the Beijing Xiangshan Forum on security earlier on Thursday, the UAVs that attacked Russia’s Hmeymim airbase in Syria were operated from a US Boeing Poseidon-8 reconnaissance plane.

When the drones encountered electronic countermeasures from Russian systems, they switched into manual guidance mode from the Poseidon-8 aircraft, he said. "This was the Pentagon’s elaborate operation," Korotchenko said.

"They pursued several goals. Naturally, they proceeded from the fact that we would not find out," the National Defense chief editor noted.

"There were three such goals: uncovering the Russian air defense system in Syria, carrying out radio-electronic reconnaissance and inflicting actual harm to our servicemen in Syria," Korotchenko said.

"The first goal was to see how well our bases in Syria are protected from such threats as a massive attack by light drones. Correspondingly, this was aimed at uncovering the strong and weak points in our air defense system in Syria," the expert pointed out.

In Korotchenko’s opinion, the second goal was to carry out electronic reconnaissance.

"At the moment, when our air defense systems and electronic warfare measures were activated, the goal was to reveal this grouping and try to understand the parameters of irradiation and the combat modes of operation. An electronic warfare plane was in the air and US ground-based radio-electronic reconnaissance systems in nearby Middle East countries were involved," the chief editor noted.

The Americans could have also derived political advantages, if the operation had been successful, the expert said.

"Another objective was to try to inflict real damage to us. If the attack had been crowned with success, the Americans could have expected political consequences, such as the cost of our image. This could have been used for weakening our geo-political positions," the expert noted.

Consequences and countermeasures

Russia is not engaged in "whipping up tension," the specialist said. The facts announced by the Russian deputy defense minister have been confirmed, he added.

"It is obvious that the statement was made after the Russian reconnaissance and the Defense Ministry received 100% proof of what was announced by [Deputy Defense Minister] Fomin. As soon as all this was confirmed, this was immediately announced and that is why this does not mean ‘instigating tension,’" Korotchenko said.

According to the expert, Russia is well aware of what the Americans are doing.

"This means that they are controlling some terrorist groups that are operating in their interests… Such things are not announced groundlessly. These are very serious issues and therefore, if such accusations were announced, this means that they had been fully confirmed," Korotchenko pointed out.

Now Russia is expecting "the Pentagon’s reaction, the expert said.

As for counter-measures, they have already been taken in military terms, he added.

"The drones’ flights have ended in nothing," he said.

Terrorists carried out the first massive drone attack on Russia’s Hmeymim airbase and its Tartus logistics support facility in Syria on January 6. The attack was successfully repelled. Seven drones were shot down and the Russian forces managed to gain control of six other unmanned aerial vehicles with the help of electronic warfare measures.

Russian Defense Ministry specialists carried out a detailed analysis of the drones’ design and capabilities. Head of the Russian General Staff’s Office for UAV Development Major-General Alexander Novikov said that the drones launched by terrorists to attack Russian facilities in Syria overnight to January 6 were used for the first time.

According to the general, the Defense Ministry experts have been able to decipher data from the drones seized by the Russian forces in Syria and collect details on their programed and real flight routes and the points of dropping munitions. The study of the UAVs showed that they could not have been developed and made in an improvised manner.

Lieutenant-General Kenneth McKenzie from the US Joint Chiefs of Staff stated to reporters at a news briefing back then that the United States had no connection to the drone attack on the Russian bases in Syria.

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Russian General Says US Plane Directed Drones Towards Airbase in Syria

(Source: Deutsche Welle German Radio; issued Oct 25, 2018)

The US military helped coordinate an attempted drone attack on Russia's Hemeimeem base in Syria, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin claimed at a summit in Beijing on Thursday. The alleged attack took place in January 2018.

Fomin's statement marks the first time Russia has directly accused the US of targeting Russian forces.

The Russian official said that a coordinated group of 13 drones was directed toward the base while a US Poseidon-8, a high-tech reconnaissance plane, was cruising over the Mediterranean. Once the drones "reached our barrier of radio-electronic interference," they were switched to manual navigation, according to Fomin.

"This manual control is not conducted by just some villager, but by a normal, modernized Poseidon-8," Fomin added. "It took on manual control."

Fomin did not say who had launched the drones before the the US plane took over their direction.

'This needs to stop'

Russian forces managed to shoot down seven of the drones and then hack and take control of the remaining six, landing them safely.

"And this needs to stop — in order to avoid high-tech weapons falling into terrorists' hands and having well-equipped terrorists, it is necessary to stop strengthening them," Fomin told delegates at China's Xiangshan security forum.

The three-day summit in Beijing is organized by the Chinese defense ministry, with delegates expected from 79 countries.

Moscow has repeatedly accused the US of supplying and arming jihadist groups fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

A question for Donald Trump

Islamist rebels often use drones to target Russian forces in Syria. Russia's defense ministry has claimed that rebel drones appear to be basic, but are equipped with modern navigation and ordinance delivery systems. This suggests that "a country possessing the technology to produce such systems supplied them to international terrorist groups," the ministry said, according to remarks quoted by Russia's RIA Novosti agency.

In Moscow, President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the information was "very alarming," but added only the Russian military could provide details.

Putin might raise the issue when meeting US President Donald Trump in Paris on November 11, Peskov told reporters.

The US Pentagon did not immediately comment on Fomin's claims.

The news of the alleged US-coordinated attack comes some two months after Russia lost a high-tech plane in Syria in an incident Moscow says was caused by Israel. Russia responded by pledging to supply Syrian forces with S-300 aerial defense systems.

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