Check out this footage from Ruptly:
What is interesting here is that besides the famous S-400 ‘Triumf’ system this video also shows footage of the point air defense system Pantsir and that the title identifies this as the Pantsir-S2 version. This is important because the S2 variant is the most advanced version of this already formidable system.
You can think of the Pantsir as an “engagement cupola” with a 40km radius and a 15km height. Within this cupola literally *nothing* can escape the combined missile+30mm autocanon combination: aircraft, cruise missiles, helicopters, anti-radiation missiles, ballistic missiles, artillery shells, rockets – you name it: it all gets destroyed inside this cupola. Even “stealth” aircraft or UAV cannot escape the multiple-band target acquisition and tracking system of the Pantsir. Even high velocity targets flying at over 3600km/h have been shot down by the Pantsir!
The S2 version deployed in Hmeymim is the very latest one, it was only deployed in the Russian military last year, and its characteristics are still secret but the new version has been reported to have “absolutely superior” technical characteristics compared to the existing system.
As for the S-400, much has been written about it and I won’t repeat it all here. Let’s just say that its detection range reaches as far as 600km and that its “engagement cupola” has a 400km radius and a 56km height.
In fact, the S-400+Pantsir-S2 combo is what currently protects the city of Moscow! In other words, the Russians have really deployed in Syria the most formidable air defense capabilities on the planet.
And then, just to make sure all that all her bases are covered, Russia has also deployed her most advanced aircraft, the SU-35S, to Hmeymim. It is hard to avoid hyperbole in regards to this aircraft, so I won’t even bother trying. I will just simply say that no aircraft in the West, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, comes even close in terms of capabilities. None. Not even the US F-22 (which, while excellent in its own role, is much more limited in its capabilities). Here is a video which illustrates just one aspect of this, the “supermaneuverability” of the SU-35S but please keep in mind that while this shows an amazing control of the aircraft in low-speed situation, real air-to-air combat happens in a very different engagement envelope. Still check out this video just for a sense of the amazing aerodynamic capabilities of this *heavy* (18,400 kg empty) aircraft:
For the “under the hood” specs of the SU-35S please see here. The bottom line is this: both in terms of power (engine power, range and radar power) and firepower (quantity and quality of weapons) the SU-35S is currently the most advanced military aircraft on the planet.
It is unclear to me what the exact number and type of Russian aircraft in Hmeymim are (the Russians have a tendency to announce these figures only *after* their aircraft are already deployed), but the figures are probably low. We know that 3 types of aircraft have solid and superb air-to-air capabilities: the SU-34 (probably 8 units, solid air-to-air capabilities), the SU-30S (probably 4 units, superb air-to-air capabilities) and the SU-35S (probably 4 units, superb air-to-air capabilities). If these figures are correct, then the following is clear: Russia is not preparing to fight a full-scale US/NATO invasion of Syria (there is no need for that anyway) but she wants to make darn sure that the Turks don’t try something stupid/crazy yet again (there might be a dire need for that very soon).
It is hard to know what the Russians know, but, if I may use that analogy, when you see an animal take up a typical combat position you can assume that it has seen something which it is now reacting to. What is clear to me is that the Russians have recently dramatically increased their qualitative capabilities and if I combine this increase is capabilities with the kind of language I hear from Russian officials every day I can only conclude that this is in response to Turkey’s moves. I know, this is hardly earth shattering, and I am not claiming that I came up with something new or original here, all I am saying that what Russia does (deploying some extremely advanced systems) seems to corroborate what she says (that Turkey is up to no good and that the West might want to do something to stop this).
Should it come to a direct confrontation between Russia and Turkey, then the Turks would have a huge advantage in numbers, roughly 230 F-16C/D according to the 2013 IISS Military Balance, and while the F-16C/D is no match for the latest Russian Sukhois, it is a very solid performer, a highly cost-effective and capable (all-weather capability & beyond-visual-range) aircraft. The problem for Turkey is that engaging its air force is large numbers would be tantamount to an official declaration of war against Russia, not an “incident” as Turkey characterized the shooting down of the Russian Su-24 bomber. Thus, if Erdogan plans some kind of “limited intervention” (i.e., and invasion of northern Syria) he can only allow some “incidents” to happen and not engage his full airpower. But any “incident”-size confrontation between the Turkish F-16s and Russian Sukhois protected by S-400s will result in Russian victories, that I have no doubt about. Hence the deterrence strategy chosen by the Russian might well be a very sound one, yet again achieving a lot with very limited numbers.