AIR DEFENSES CRITICAL
The $600 million contract for the MiG-29s includes an option for 12 more to be delivered. At least one prototype was completed by the end of last year.
“According to information we have obtained, the delivery of the first part (and perhaps all 12 airplanes) to Syria is expected at the end of 2012,” the report said.
The jets are expected to be equipped with air-to-air and air-to-surface rockets, giving them the capability to flout any “no-fly zone” over Syria.
France has said a no fly zone is being considered as part of international efforts to end the crisis in Syria. A no fly zone was also imposed over Libya during the conflict there last year.
“Syria’s air defense systems are better than Libya’s,” said Ruslan Aliyev, one of the authors of the report, which will be published in the group’s Moscow Defence Brief later this year.
“On the one hand, Syria has tough, solid air defense systems of many different kinds, but what condition they are in and whether Syria is properly trained to use them is a different question ... the only real way of knowing what shape it’s in is to test it,” he told Reuters by phone.
Moscow is also obliged to fulfil a contract for 36 of the Pantsir-S1 armoured rocket complexes. Twelve have already been delivered and the contract is expected to be fulfilled by 2013.