Israeli Air Force F-16s may have used the country’s newest air defence-evading ‘Rampage’ air-to-surface missiles (ASM) during their Saturday strike against a military facility in western Syria, independent defence analyst Babak Taghvaee has reported.
According to the analyst, the missiles were used “due to the danger” posed by Syrian Air Defence Force S-300PM-2s, which were delivered to the country by Russia last October following the accidental downing of a Russian plane during an Israeli air raid on Syria.
The Israeli military has not commented on the claims.
The Rampage missile was introduced last year, with developers boasting that the missile “allows us to strike under conditions we’ve never had before”. The all-weather weapon can be deployed aboard IAF F-15s, F-16s and F-35s, and can travel over 140 km at supersonic speeds, guided by an onboard GPS system.
Crucially, the missile is designed to strike high-value targets at standoff ranges, meaning it can be launched by aircraft which can then return to a safe distance, before enemy air defences have a chance to respond.
Israeli aircraft reportedly struck a military facility in Masyaf in the Syrian countryside outside the city of Hama in the early hours of Saturday morning, with multiple buildings destroyed and at least three Syrian troops injured. Syrian air defences reported downing several enemy projectiles, with social media users posting videos of efforts to repel the attack.
Israeli satellite intelligence firm ImageSat International said the strikes targeted an ‘Iranian’ missile factory operating inside Syria, but admitted that their images could not verify ‘Iranian control’ over the facility, nor the site’s status as a missile factory, pointing to a lack of actual missiles or launchers in the compound.
Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes across Syria in recent years, while accusing Tehran of using the war-torn country as a foothold for a possible future military attack against Tel Aviv.
Tehran has denied these claims, but has admitted to providing military advisors, arms, and other assistance to Syria at Damascus’ request to help the country in its fight against Islamist terrorism. Israeli attacks against Syria declined late last year following the deployment of Russian-made S-300 air defence batteries in the country.
The Russian military delivered the systems to Syria in response to an incident in which a Syrian-operated S-200 accidentally shot down a Russian Il-20 military aircraft over the Mediterranean while attempting to defend against an Israeli airstrike, killing all 15 Russian service members on board.