With the addition of their small naval force, Russians are creating a you-can-fly-but-you-probably-shouldn’t zone over Syria.
The combined capabilities of the Russian naval task force and the S-300/S-400 missiles deployed in Syria give the Russians a world-class air-defense capability. If needed the Russians could even throw in A-50 AWACs from Russia protected by MiG-31BMs. What most observers do not realize that is that SA-N-6 “Grumble” which forms the core of the air defenses of the Peter the Great is a S-300FM, the modernized naval variant of the S-300. It is also capable of the amazing Mach 6 speed, has 150km range, an added infrared terminal capability, a track-via-missile guidance system which allows it to engage ballistic missiles and an altitude envelope of 27,000m. And, guess what – the Peter the Great has 48 such missiles (in 20 launchers), roughly the equivalent of 12 S-300 batteries (assuming 4 launchers per battery).
One of the major weaknesses of the Russian deployment in Syria has been the relative low number of missiles the Russians could fire at any one time. The US/NATO could simply saturate Russian defenses with large numbers of missiles. Frankly, they can still do it, but this has now become much, much harder.
Can the Russians now stop a US attack on Syria?
But they can make it much harder and dramatically less effective.
First, as soon as the Americans fire, the Russians will see it and they will warn the Syrian and Russian armed forces. Since the Russians will be able to track every US missile, they will be able to pass on the data to all the air defense crews who will be ready by the time the missiles arrive. Furthermore, once the missiles get close, the Russians will be able to shoot down a lot of them, making it necessary for the Americans to conduct battle damage assessment from space and then re-strike the same targets many times over.
Second, stealth or no stealth, I don’t believe that the USN or the USAF will risk flying into Russian controlled airspace or, if it does, this will be a short-lived experiment. I believe that the Russian presence in Syria will make any attack on Syria a “missile only” attack. Unless the Americans take down the Russian air defenses, which they could only if they want to start WWIII, US aircraft will have to stay outside the Syrian skies. And that means that the Russians have basically created their own no-fly zone over Syria and a US no-fly zone is now impossible to achieve.
This marks the first time that the USA has lost air supremacy in an active conflict in decades. It is yet another sign of a crumbling empire with declining military power. The danger of a Hillary presidency is that she is likely to make the mistake of past crumbling empires in military decline, which is to fail to recognize the significance of that decline, and, through overconfidence, order military action that will lead to defeat.
Neither the US military nor the USA itself is what it was in the 1980s. It is no longer the nation nor the country that won the Cold War. Donald Trump recognizes this, hence his call to Make America Great Again, which is another way of saying Make the USA American Again.