Russian SAMS (advanced Surface-to-air missile systems) deployed in Syria to combat the so called Islamic State or ISIS, has raised concerns for an Ex-Navy chief.
Admiral Alan William John West, a retired senior officer of the Royal Navy has described the positioning of the SAM’s in the heart of Syrian territory as ‘extremely dangerous.’
The sophisticated SAM’s are ready to shoot down flying objects up to 70,000 feet high or twice the altitude of flying commercial jets. Since ISIS poses no threat in the atmosphere to the Russians, this means that the missiles deployed by President Putin could only be primed to shoot down US-led coalition or NATO aircraft.
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The Sunday Express reports:
Former Navy chief Lord West said the presence of the weapons makes the situation in the area “highly risky”.
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He said: “These are surface to air missiles of the later versions and are very highly capable missiles.
“ISIL doesn’t have any aircraft that it’s using and I’m sure Russia doesn’t intend to shoot down Syrian government aircraft so one must wonder why exactly are they there?
“Are they expecting to shoot down coalition aircraft? Are they expecting attacks from coalition aircraft?
“That does worry me.
“They would argue that it’s part of a deployment package but I think it’s an extremely dangerous strategy.
“If you’ve got a capability then clearly there’s an occasion when you might be able to use it.”
News broke that Russia were bringing SAMs to Syria in September.
Earlier this week a clear sign they could be turned on the coalition came when Turkey said its fighter aircraft was locked onto by the sophisticated mobile defence units.
Lord West, who was also Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office under Gordon Brown, said the crowded air space in the skies above the war zone already makes it highly dangerous.
With the introduction of SAMs, he said passenger jets now need to completely avoid the area.
Risks have already been identified by the European Union’s aviation experts because of rockets being fired from the Caspian Sea by Russian warships and fears were mentioned for commercial aircraft yesterday in the report by Dutch investigators into the downing of the MH17 jet.
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