Sitting at the centre of an internal rebellion, civil war, ,and multinational arms deals — Syria is a stomping ground for old U.S. and Russian Cold war power plays.In the midst of that Syria’s also loaded up on missiles, weapons of mass destruction, a respectable air force, and enough Cold war relics to fill a dozen Air-and-Space museums.
But what hasn’t been seen in the media so far is an evaluation of what the current strength of Syria’s military is right now.
After all, the Assad regime has remained in power for two generations, with unflinching loyalty of the Army supporting it each step of the way.
Syria is one of the few nations to refuse to sign the Chemical Weapons Convention, banning chemical weaponry.
As such, Syria has stockpiles of Sarin and probably Mustard Gas, Tabun, and VX.
Sarin is a nerve agent, most famous for its use in both the Iran-Iraq war as well as the 1995 Tokyo Metro terrorist attack which killed thirteen people.
Sarin is colorless, odorless, and five hundred times as toxic as cyanide. Even non-lethal doses can result in extensive and permanent nerve damage nonetheless.
Mustard Gas is an early chemical weapon which causes extensive chemical burns. Tabun is a nerve agent with a faint fruity odor and mechanisms similar to sarin. VX is likewise a nerve agent, but it is unclear how much if any Syria possesses.
The Syrian Air Force is made up of 60,000 soldiers. The lynchpin of the Syrian Air Force is the MiG-29.
The MiG-29 jet fighter, called 'Fulcrum' by NATO, was introduced in 1983. It's another Soviet project that has seen worldwide distribution.
The MiG-29 remains in use in the Russian Air Force. More than 1,600 have been built.
It has a max speed of Mach 2.25 and a range of nearly 900 miles. It has a 30mm cannon and can hold up almost four tons of armaments. This includes up to six air-to-air missiles.
It was intended to compete with the General Dynamics F-16.
As of yet, Syria has at least nineteen MiG-29s in service, from 24 aircraft ordered. Russia was the seller.
Called 'Hind' by NATO, the Mi-24 has been operated since 1972.
This chopper has made news recently due to allegations from the United States that Russia continues to sell the aircraft to Syria in spite of United Nations sanctions against the country.
The Mi-24 has seen use in a tons of conflicts, notably in the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Dozens of countries currently own Mi-24 helicopters exported from either the Soviet Union or Russia.
The chopper is heavily armed, and has a number of configurations of Gatling guns, missiles, and bombs.
Syria has between 35 and 48 Mi-25 attack helicopters, in addition to 36 French SA-342 Gazelle attack helicopters.
The Mi-8 is the world's most produced helicopter, introduced in 1967. The Mi-17 was introduced in the 1970s.
Both were designed by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, and have seen tours of duty all over the world.
NATO codenamed them 'Hip.'
These aircraft aid in troop movement and are likewise armed and can see use as gunships. They can be equipped for electronic warfare. The Soviet Union, and later Russia, was the primary exporter.
The Syrian Air Force possesses 100 of these helicopters in total, with probably 55 Mi-8 and 45 Mi-17 transport helicopters in service.
The Syrian Navy is made up of 4,000 active personnel. The Navy has Two Frigates, 20 missile boats, 7 mine warfare ships, 3 amphibious vessels, and no submarines.
Designed by the Soviets, this anti-ship missile saw use throughout the India-Pakistan war, the Yom Kippur war, and the Iran-Iraq war. NATO calls it 'Styx,' and Russia still uses it.
It flies at Mach 0.9 and has a range of around 50 miles.
The missiles are highly destructive when used effectively.
Two P-15s struck the Israeli destroyer Eilat in 1967 during the War of Attrition, nearly splitting the ship in two before sinking it.
India later used the missiles during the India-Pakistan war, using 13 missile over the course of the conflict and sinking nearly as many ships.
The P-15 is used by more than two dozen navies around the world.
Syria, with its ample coastline, has invested in a number of ship-to-ship missile technologies.
The P-800 Oniks was developed throughout the 1980s by the Soviet Union and entered service in 1999 in the Russian military.
Russia delivered 2 missile systems to Syria in 2011, with 72 missiles included.
The cruise missiles can travel up to 300 km and has a radar seeking head. They travel at Mach 2 when flying at 10 meters.
The Syrian Navy uses the missiles.
Syria's military has a unique branch which is focuses exclusively on the use of Surface-to-Air missiles (SAMs).
The Air defence Force, founded in 1946 and briefly merged with both the Air Force and Army at different times in its history, has 40,000 active personnel and spends $1-2 billion yearly on operations. Russia is the chief foreign supplier.
The branch is comprised of 25 brigades, each with six SAM batteries.
This branch is one of the most dominant threats to any adversary interested in getting near Syrian air space.
The Syrians have 650 static missile launchers as part of their Air defence Force, composed of the following:
The S-75 Dvina, called the SA-2 Guideline by NATO, is the most widely deployed air defence missile in history. This was the missile system that shot down Francis Gary Powers' U-2 over the Soviet Union in 1960. The North Vietnamese used the S-75 extensively. It flies at Mach 3.5. S
Syria has 320 S-75 missile launchers.
The Isayev S-125 Pechora, or the SA-3 Goa to NATO, is a missile designed to hit manoeuvring targets. It flies slower and lower than the S-75, but is substantially more capable against low flying targets. It flies at Mach 3.
Syria has 148 S-125 missile launchers.
The S-200 Angara, called the SA-5 Gammon by NATO, is a system popularised in the 1960s as a long-range, high altitude SAM. It travels at more than 7 times the speed of sound. It can hit anything travelling at Mach 4 or below. Each missile weighs 8 tons at takeoff.
Syria has 48 S-200 missile launchers.
The Syrians have at least 200 mobile missile launchers that have the ability to be moved around the country with relative ease.
The 2K12 Kub SAM system is a Soviet export that was designed for low to medium altitude aerial defence of ground troops. NATO called it SA-6 Gainful. The launchers carry three radar-homing 5.8m missiles at a time, missiles which have a range of around 15 miles. The missiles travel at Mach 2.8 and can hit anything travelling at up to Mach 2.
Syria has 200 Kub missile launchers.
The Buk missile system was designed as the successor system to the Kub system. NATO referred to it as the SA-11 Gadfly. These launchers carry four radar-homing missiles each, and those missiles have a range of around 19 miles. The missiles travel at Mach 3 and can strike a target moving at up to Mach 2.5.
Syria has 48 Buk missile launchers.
The 9K33 OSA (Russian for 'Wasp') is an extremely mobile Soviet Surface-to-air missile system. It was produced from 1980 to 1988, and was the first air defence missile system to incorporate the engagement radars right on the vehicle. NATO called it the SA-8 Gecko.
It shoots guided missiles that can fly 9.3 miles and remain accurate to 5 meters. The missiles fly at Mach 2.4.
Syria's Air defence Forces have an independent regiment comprised of OSAs, and has 60 total systems.
The S-300 is the heavy hitting portion on the Syrian Aerial defence Forces. NATO called it the S-10 Gladiator. The Soviets developed in the 1970s, and it's been continually upgraded until the cessation of production in 2011.
It's one of the most potent anti-aircraft missile systems in the field today.
There are even variations that have been designed to intercept ballistic missiles. The radar system can track 100 targets at once, and can simultaneously engage 12 of them.
The 23 foot missiles used weigh two tons and have a range of between 56 and 93 miles. They travel at six times the speed of sound. The missile system has never been used in combat as yet, but NATO has trained for that eventuality
Syria has 48 S-300 systems.
With 220,000 active personnel, 280,000 reserve personnel, and an across-the-board mandatory conscription policy for Syrian males at the age of 18, the Syrian Army is a force to be reckoned with.
Historically, the Army has been fiercely loyal to the President, prioritizing the will of Bashar al-Assad and his father Hafez al-Assad over even the safety of the Syrian people.
The United Nations Human Rights Council has claimed that the Syrian Army has committed multiple crimes against humanity throughout its history, including extrajudicial murder, rape, and torture.
The army has almost 5,000 tanks, 1,000 mortars, 7,000 anti-tank weapon launchers, 3,000 infantry vehicles, and 1,675 anti-aircraft guns.
The SS-21 Scarab is a Soviet short-range tactical ballistic missile system. Each missile weighs two tons, is 21 ft long, and has a range of 40 to 75 miles.
The Syrian Army has 1 brigade of them, comprised of 18 launchers. Syria has at least 36 missiles, all bought from the Soviet Union.
The missile system is used for tactical strikes, and the warhead can be swapped out for a chemical weapons payload.
The vehicle launcher can travel up to 40 mph on land.
Scud missiles are widely distributed ballistic missiles exported by the Soviet Union.
Syria is known to have Scud-B and Scud-C missiles, and allegedly owns some Scud-D missiles that were acquired from North Korea.
During the Gulf War, Scud missiles were responsible for most coalitions deaths outside of Iraq.
In Saudi Arabia, 28 National Guard members were killed when a Scud missile from Iraq struck a barracks in Dhahran.
In 2011, Muammar Gaddafi also used Scud missiles against opposition factions.
Scud Missiles B, C and D were introduced between 1964 and 1989.
They have a range of 180 to 340 miles. Scud-D missiles are accurate to within 160 feet.
Called the FROG-7 by NATO, this ballistic missile system was first introduced in 1965.
The 30 ft warheads have a range of around 43 miles and travel at three times the speed of sound.
During the invasion of Iraq in 2003, an Iraqi FROG-7 rocket struck the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division Tactical Operations centre and killed 3 soldiers, injured 14, and destroyed 22 vehicles.
During the recent engagement with Gaddafi forces, the Royal Air Force made sure that these were the among the first Libyan targets wiped out. They had 45 of them.
Syria has 18 units.
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