On Saturday, a Russian Su-25 Frogfoot attack jet was shot down in Syria by what Russia calls “terrorists” and the U.S. calls “Anti-Assad rebels.” The Su-25 is Russia’s version of the vaunted, American A-10, and was designed and built around the same time. The Frogfoot has only slightly swept wings, and is meant to fly low and slow over the battlefield, carrying a heavy load of weapons. In short, it is meant to loiter and find targets on the ground to attack. It is not an air-superiority aircraft, and is 1970s technology. It has one mission—to find things on the ground and kill them.
The problem with this type of aircraft design is that it can be vulnerable to threats from the ground due to its low speed and mission of repeatedly flying over targets to locate and destroy them. One of the most dangerous threats to low-flying attack aircraft are man-portable air-defense missiles, or ManPAD weapons systems. It was during the Soviet invasion and conflict in Afghanistan that the “Stinger” ManPAD became famous, and shot down many a Soviet Su-25 by the Islamic rebels that went on to destroy the World Trade Center in New York City on 9/11.
I find it curious that not much has been made of this incident in the American or Russian press in the last 24 hours, beyond the obligatory photos and social media postings of dead pilots and burning aircraft. The main reason for this is that both sides, meaning Russia, and the Americans, want to be quiet about it.
I have a theory.
ManPAD missiles were not introduced into the Syrian theater in any effective way since 2014. I have often wondered why more Russian aircraft were not shot down in this manner by Islamic rebels. ManPADs are relatively cheap and easy to find on the black market.
They are a terrifying effective weapon against close air support aircraft. They are a “fire and forget” weapon. The “seeker head” simply locks on to the heat source of an aircraft, like the exhaust, and flies right up the tailpipe and explodes. There are countermeasure, like flares that can provide a deceptive heat source to the seeker head, but more advanced ManPADs have sophisticated technology that can ferret out the real target and ignore these types of decoys. However, I doubt the Russian Su-25s in Syria had very sophisticated countermeasures deployed.
Remember, these were just ignorant terrorists with rifles.
Or were they?
My theory is that President Trump has just shot a lethal warning across Russia’s bow in the Middle East.
Someone provided these ManPADs to the Syrian rebels. And it seems to have only been done recently.
I think it was the Americans. Maybe it was deliberately by President Trump, or maybe it was by the Deep State who want a war with Russia. Russia has been publicly declaring for months that the U.S. is protecting and training Islamist forces in the Syrian theater.
Maybe Trump wanted to send a message. Maybe these ManPADS were more “defensive lethal weapons” like what is being supplied to Ukrainian soldiers in Donbass.
There has not been much press over this incident for a reason. That reason could possibly be that neither side wants to admit we are closer to a war between America and the Democrats’ new boogie man (they loved them when they were communist) — yep, yep you guessed it, Russia.
Look out Maxine, the Russians are coming.