Was the Swarm Drone Attack on Russia's Syria Airbase a US Message?

An attack by local jihadis? Or a US/Israeli action to probe Russian defenses and send a message to start thinking about packing?

Russian Ministry of Defense:

Security system of the Russian Khmeimim air base and Russian Naval CSS point in the city of Tartus successfully warded off a terrorist attack with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) through the night of 5th – 6th January, 2018.

As evening fell, the Russia air defence forces detected 13 unidentified small-size air targets at a significant distance approaching the Russian military bases.

Ten assault drones were approaching the Khmeimim air base, and another three approached the CSS point in Tartus.

Six small-size air targets were intercepted and taken under control by the Russian EW units. Three of them were landed on the controlled area outside the base, and another three UAVs exploded as they touched the ground.

Seven UAVs were eliminated by the Pantsir-S anti-aircraft missile complexes operated by the Russian air defence units on 24-hours alert.

The Russian bases did not suffer any casualties or damage.

The Khmeimim air base and Russian Naval CSS point in Tartus are functioning on a scheduled basis.

Currently, the Russian military experts are analyzing the construction, technical filling and improvised explosives of the captured UAVs.

Having decoded the data recorded on the UAVs, the specialists found out the launch site.

It was the first time when terrorists applied a massed drone aircraft attack launched at a range of more than 50 km using a modern GPS guidance system

Technical examination of the drones showed that such attacks could have been made by terrorists at a distance of about 100 kilometers.

Engineering decisions applied by terrorists while attacks on the Russian objects in Syria could be received from one of countries with high-technological capabilities of satellite navigation and remote dropping control of professionally assembled improvised explosive devices in assigned coordinates. All terrorist drones are fitted with pressure transducers and altitude control servo-actuators.

The terrorists’ aircraft-type drones carried explosive devices with foreign detonating fuses.

The Russian specialists are determining supply channels, through which terrorists had received the technologies and devices, as well as examining type and origin of explosive compounds used in the IEDs.

The usage of strike aircraft-type drones by terrorists is the evidence that militants have received technologies to carry out terrorist attacks using such UAVs in any country.

The “one of countries with high-technological capabilities” is, of course, referring to the US, Israel, and maybe Turkey.

If this is true, then I think the suspicions that I expressed have basically been confirmed:

Frankly, I have a hard time buying that this is the sort of thing that can be manufactured, smuggled in, and organized by deep cover rebel operatives.

However, there are forces in the region who are credibly capable of such operations.

Is it true?

Well, there’s no reason it can’t be – and I say this as someone who hardly has a reputation for conspiracy theorizing or uncritically buying the Kremlin’s version of events.

There are basically several counter-arguments to this, but they are all rather weak.

It’s a primitive contraption, it couldn’t have flown that far/or autonomously.

Except that both things have been done 15 years ago, and over transcontinental distances:

By 2003, a hobbyist launched a GPS-guided model airplane/drone that flew autonomously from Newfoundland to precisely the right landing point in Ireland. Built of balsa and plywood with a tiny gasoline engine that burned less than one gallon of fuel in the 26 hour flight, it was cheap enough that the hobbyist built 23 to ensure he could be the first hobbyist to fly across the Atlantic. … Today [hobbyists and businesses] are routinely flying smart systems with intercontinental range — they lack only a payload to be a precision weapons system. Their composite construction and very low energy usage mean they will be very difficult to detect.

It’s a primitive contraption, period.

Well, it has to look home-made for it to be deniable. Maybe you could call them “little green drones.”

The sophisticated internals (navigation, control, etc.), and the swarm nature of the attack, is much more impressive, requiring a degree of logistics, testing, and technical expertise that one suspects might be beyond the capabilities of 80 average IQ Islamists, who are currently losing and hard pressed enough as it is.

Assuming this is true, this could mean one of, and probably both of, these things.

1. The US/Israel want to (cheaply, deniably) probe the Russian AA systems at Khmeimim, in case they’re thinking of resuming the regime change program.

And if it wildly happens to succeed in temporarily disabling Russian air power, as the first round of attacks on Dec 31 seems to have done so, then all the better.

2. Telling Putin he should start thinking about packing up his bags in Syria.

Source: The Unz Review