US President Donald Trump ordered the boost in the number of advanced planes for Israel after Russia deployed four S-300 air defense systems to Syria following an incident in which a Russian plane was shot down, reported DEBKAfile, a military intelligence news site linked to Israel
Moscow blamed the downing of its Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft on Tel Aviv.
Moscow said its data proved that an Israeli F-16 fighter jet had been trying to use the Russian aircraft as a shield when it was shot down by Syrian air defense forces, Presstv reported.
Military analysts believe Russia’s S-300 delivery to Syria boosts security of its personnel and prevents potential further escalations.
RT news site reported that the S-300 delivery – initially planned years ago – was halted in 2013 on an Israeli request, but the September events forced Moscow to change its mind.
The US, Israel’s long-time friend, didn’t miss a chance to criticize the S-300s deployment, according to RT.
It said the head of the US Central Command, General Joseph Votel, called the move a “needless, needless escalation,” noting that the Russian hardware would not affect US military activities in the region.
Israel’s energy minister Yuval Steinitz, recently acknowledged that the S-300 “is a system which certainly makes things difficult for us and requires that solutions be found,” RT reported.
It added, Israel’s national security expert Tzachi Hanegbi boasted that the stealth capabilities of the F-35s can’t be detected by S-300s.
The move to boost Israel’s air force was taken in the wake of Russia’s “enhanced threat” and its decision to deliver S-300 air defense systems to the war-ravaged country, according to the report.
The precise number of fighters allocated to Israel, however, has not been revealed.
It is also understood that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, crown princes Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and Muhammad bin Zayed of the United Arab Emirates, were informed of the move.
The F-35 stealth multirole jets in mind will be deployed from the US Air Force’s active service squadrons, the report said. The first squadron will be posted at the UAE Al Dhafra Air base, some 32 kilometers from Abu Dhabi.
DEBKA concludes that “this massive transfer” shows the US-led coalition forces “determination” to maintain Israeli flights in Syria, “notwithstanding the presence of the S-300s and boosted Russian-Syrian air defense capabilities.”