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.