- Russia claimed Syria captured a US Tomahawk cruise missile from the strike that took place on April 14, but it’s unclear how they would have or why it’s mentioning it now.
- Russia says it will study the missile to advance their own munitions, but an expert says it’s unlikely Russia can learn anything from whatever it found.
- Instead, the expert says Russia’s claim is likely an effort to “embarrass” the US.
Russian state media said on Wednesday that Syria had “captured” a US Tomahawk cruise missile from the strike on suspected Syrian chemical weapons sites on April 14 – and they will study it to advance their own missiles.
The Russian claim comes after Syria said it knocked down 71 out of 105 US, UK, and French missiles fired in the strike – a claim that no solid evidence has backed up yet.
In fact, photos from the strike show Syrian air defences likely fired blindly, at nothing. The Pentagon maintains that no Syrian missiles intercepted any US or allied missiles, and that most of Syria’s air defences fired after the strike took place.
Also, the Pentagon says Syria fired 40 interceptors, meaning it’s virtually impossible 71 missiles were downed, as it takes at least one interceptor to down a missile.
Justin Bronk, an air combat expert at the Royal United Services Institute told Business Insider that Russia and Syria likely only have fragments of detonated Tomahawks, and that they wouldn’t be much use.
“I don’t know whether Russia or Syria have ‘captured’ at Tomahawk although I’m sure they have plenty of fragments to study from weapons which hit their targets,” Bronk told Business Insider.
Unlike other areas of technology where Russia lags far behind the US, Russia’s cruise missiles are actually pretty capable, according to Bronk. Russia has used cruise missiles fired from navy ships and submarines to strike targets in Syria before, and they displayed a similar range and ability in doing so.
Cruise missiles are “not exactly an area where Moscow desperately needs access to Western technology,” said Bronk, though Russia would “would love to examine an intact Block 4 Tomahawk to have a look at the sensor and guidance package nonetheless.”
Overall, if Russia or Syria had actually found an intact Tomahawk missile, that flew at hundreds of miles an hour armed with a large explosive and yet somehow managed to land on the ground without breaking up, they could have shown it off by now to back up their claims that the US strike partly failed.
Bronk concluded that Russia’s claim was “probably just posturing in this case to try and embarrass the US.”
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