Israeli Submarine Nails Russian-Made Anti-Ship Missiles in Syria
A Dolphin-class submarine with the Israeli Sea Corps destroyed 50 Russian-made anti-ship missiles in the Syrian Port of Latakia. Said to have been coordinated with the Obama administration, the attack occurred Friday 5 July but was not reported until Friday 12 July when CNN mistakenly called it an airstrike. Rebel descriptions of the explosions in the port suggested multiple secondary detonations of missile warheads.
The diesel-electric boat probably did the deed with a salvo of 4 “Popeye Turbo” land attack missiles, the submarine-launched cruise missile (SLCM) variant with a 200-mile range. The Israeli defense firm Rafael developed Popeye when the Clinton administration refused to sell Israel BGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles.
The Israeli Sea Corps’ targets were advanced Yakhont (“Ruby”) anti-ship missiles (NATO designation SS-N-26 “Super Sunburn”). Their speed, surface-skimming terminal profile and the saturation tactic of firing a salvo of two or more at once makes the SS-N-26 a serious threat to the U.S. Sixth Fleet and allied navies. With their 180-mile range, Super Sunburns can also strike Israeli gas rigs in the eastern Med and warships moored in the Port of Haifa, a major naval training center and home to Israel’s Missile Boats Flotilla and Submarine Flotilla.
The Yakhonts targeted were variants designed for launch from K-300P Bastion-P Anti-Ship Coastal Defense Systems and were likely poised for transfer to Hezbollah, a red line for Israel, the crossing of which consistently triggers action by the Israel military.
• The Take-Away: Putin Keeps Obama in Check. The submarine attack on Russian missiles in Syria must be seen in the context of Israel’s no-nonsense enforcement of red lines and Washington’s bungled, nonsensical policy toward Syria and the Middle East generally. A third, equally dark template is the administration’s gross misperception of Vladimir Putin and failure to read his commitment to weakening the U.S. and waging a new Cold War as the Joseph Stalin of today.
The first Bastion/Yakhont shipment was Vladimir Putin’s opening move in his sweeping diplomatic outmaneuver of the Obama White House that began in earnest in June 2012. At the G20 summit in Mexico, President Obama tried to “press Putin on Syria” in a “critical showdown,” but it was another diplomatic failure. The Russian president doubled-down on his support of dictator Bashar Al-Assad – first by dispatching warships and “naval infantry” to the Russian base in the Port of Tartous, second by showering the brutal dictator with more weapons.
The Moscow Times was unusually specific in detailing the weapons Putin was sending Assad – not just the Bastion/Yakhont ship killers, but the SA-17 Grizzly and SA-22 Greyhound surface-to-air missile systems to pressure the U.S. and NATO to abandon any notion of a No-Fly Zone.
At least Israel speaks with clarity. Israel neither confirmed nor denied the 5 July attack. Instead, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said last Tuesday that Israel has “established red lines regarding our interests, and we maintain them.” It doesn’t take a Russian rocket scientist to grasp his meaning.
And it didn’t take the Kremlin long to understand and respond. On Saturday 13 July, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced a massive, no-notice military exercise, the “most ambitious … readiness test” in the post-Soviet era. It will involve the Central and Eastern Military Districts (two-third of the country), the Russian Air Force, 80,000 troops and 70 warships, most of its Navy.
Putin’s maneuvers have effectively kept the Obama White House in check for more than a year. With the suddenly announced “readiness test,” Putin may just be ready to use the word “checkmate.”by