Estimates of the Chinese experts on the actions of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey in the Syrian direction

iimes_4.3.2020_1

Observers of Chinese specialized military-political publications closely monitor the situation in the Syrian province of Idlib, which was declared a de-escalation zone of internal armed conflict more than a year ago. In fact, this administrative-territorial unit, by agreement between the Russian, Syrian and Turkish parties, was turned into the area of ​​the highest concentration of Islamists, who had previously been defeated in other parts of Syria and agreed to go to Idlib for an indefinite period on quite favorable terms.

It is quite obvious that the issue of eliminating Islamists in Idlib was identified by official Damascus and Moscow as a priority, since the existence of such a concentration of Islamists threatened the territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic. In addition, the militants’ control over Idlib complicated the transport component — a high danger for freight and passenger traffic on the M4 and M5 motorways connecting key cities and regions of Syria.

Chinese analysts noted that the gradual concentration of Islamists in Idlib allowed the Syrian and Russian military to gather militants in a small area, and in fact to create a targeted environment for a future operation, the active phase of which began only in January-February 2020 after the 25th special forces division, as well as the 3th, 4th, 5th and 6th divisions of the SAR Armed Forces received a sufficient amount of armored vehicles from the Russian Federation, and also accumulated the necessary quantity of ammunition for conducting active offensive n operations in several directions at the same time.

After the start of the offensive, the Syrian units achieved some success within two weeks, which became possible with the active air support of the Russian Air Force, which involved mainly Su-24M front-line bombers, Su-34 fighter-bombers, as well as attack helicopters. It was the Russian military that caused serious damage to both the militants and the armored units of the Ground Forces of the Turkish Republic Armed Forces, which were deployed on the territory of Idlib, since the Command of Operation Spring Shield openly believes that the Turkish military does not seize the territory of a neighboring state, but only protect the security of their [own] state.

After several successful massive air raids by the Aerospace Forces of the Russian Federation on fixed assets of the Turkish Republic Armed Forces in Idlib province, as well as the destruction of several dozen tanks and armored vehicles, the Turkish military moved American and Chinese-made man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) to the Idlib de-escalation zone, namely FIM-92 and FN-6 to counter tactical aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces.

Anti-aircraft gunners repeatedly launched missiles in an attempt to intercept Russian aircraft, but the Russian Aerospace Forces pilots took into account the sad experience of the first years of the armed conflict and stopped flying at altitudes less than 5000 m, and also use heat traps more actively. Chinese experts note that the Turkish military continues to move mobile anti-aircraft missile launchers based on the M113 armored personnel carrier to Idlib. Such anti-aircraft missile systems are equipped with more efficient optical-electronic detection and guidance systems, expanding the capabilities of missile weapons in matters of combating air targets.

At the same time, the Russian media, citing sources in the Ministry of Defense, disseminated this information, but it did not achieve the desired effect. The top military-political leadership of Turkey pretended not to transfer MANPADS to Islamists and did not send instructors and advisers to Idlib to organize opposition to Syrian government forces.

In addition, President of the Republic of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan turned to NATO countries for military-technical assistance and at the same time proposed holding a meeting on March 5, 2020 with the participation of the leaders of France, Germany and Russia to discuss the situation in Syria.

Chinese observers note that as the situation in Idlib develops, the unmanned aerial units of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Turkey increase the number of reconnaissance and strike unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of various modifications that systematically strike at Syrian military convoys and units — they pose serious obstacles to offensive operations.

In this regard, Chinese experts note that the Syrian military lacks mobile electronic warfare systems for use in the «company-battalion» link, and also requires an increase in the number of mobile anti-aircraft missile systems 96K6 «Pantsyr-S1» and air defense systems «Buk-M2», which allow effective fight with such Turkish UAVs as ANKA-S and BAYRAKTAR-TB2.

These UAVs conduct reconnaissance of combat areas and, if necessary, carry out targeted launches of heavy anti-tank missiles, which are quite effective in the fight against the main battle tanks of Soviet and Russian production. According to Chinese sources, T-62, T-72 tanks were removed from storage bases in the Russian Federation and, after minimal maintenance, were handed over to the Syrian military to carry out the tasks of the operation in Idlib.

These MBTs, as well as BMP-1, BMP-2 and ZSU-23-4 do not have modern systems of protection against heavy ATGMs, which leads to significant losses.

In addition to the 2A4 Leopard and M-60T tanks, self-propelled artillery T-155 Firtina, MANPADS and UAVs of these models, the Turkish military switched to the active use of light and heavy multiple launch rocket systems (caliber 122 and 300 mm), which allow to hit objects, both in the near rear of the Syrian troops, and to strike at objects distant more than 100 km from the front line. Such weapons are used in coordination with UAVs, which provide operational data on the situation of the Syrian troops and the situation at the facilities — military storage facilities, fuel and lubricants and command posts.

Summing up the above, we note that at the current stage of the Syrian conflict, the Turkish military is actively and extensively testing a variety of types of military equipment, and representatives of the national military-industrial complex receive invaluable information about operation and problem issues. In addition, we note that the moment of using multifunctional electronic warfare systems, which allow not only to blind the enemy’s radar, but also to mask the radio communications of their own units, was especially relevant for the Turkish military.

Chinese experts point to such a problematic moment for the Turkish military as the actions of groups and detachments of the Special Operations Forces of the RF Armed Forces, which over the past five years of the armed conflict have gained rich experience in the elimination of enemy commanders and coordination of aviation and artillery.

In addition, it is in the province of Idlib that Turkish military experts collect Russian ammunition, which did not work for various reasons. Samples of ammunition are transferred to the research departments of defense enterprises for further study, copying and development of countermeasures.


Institute of the Middle East.

Maxim Kazanin. March 4, 2020.

http://iimes.ru/?p=41#more-41

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