Regarding the IlL-20 shootdown.
I quote from the official Russian statement:
“the Israeli military failed to provide the location of their jets or properly specify their targets, claiming they were going to attack several ‘industrial facilities’ in northern Syria, close to the Il-20’s area of operation. The misinformation prompted the Russian Command to order the recon plane back to the Khmeimim air base. The Israeli jets, however, instead almost immediately attacked the western Syrian Latakia province.”
On August 25, 2017, Russian General Sergey Meshcheryakov stated quite clearly that the Russian and Syrian sir defenses were completely integrated. In today’s statement, Konashenkov said the Russians and Syrians used different IFF systems. One of those statement is incorrect. Syrian and Russian aircraft cannot coexist over mixed air defense systems in a very active combat zone without shooting each other down which is exactly what Russia says happened. But unless the Russian military command did not link THEIR OWN MISSILE SYSTEMS WHICH WERE DESIGNED TO BE INTEGRATED, that could not be true.
From the time the Il-20 turned around to RTB, it made standard 2 minute (30 degree) turns to return and enter the landing pattern. There was no apparent danger because the F-16s were expected to continue north, not strike next to Khmeimim. If it had been instructed to return within 15 seconds after the Israelis warned of the attack, the only place it could have been within that time frame was exactly between the attack and the Israeli target. It is quite clear that the Israelis created that situation intentionally by lying about their intended target. They could see the IL-20 clearly on their radar and timed the attack to make sure it was there.
The graphic is not clear about whether then aircraft is departing Khmeimim 17R for a mission in Northern Syria or doing something else, but however it got there it was outbound on a generally eastern heading. The Russians said they were notified of the Israeli attack and told the Ilushyn to return to base but at this point the Russian narrative becomes confused. The Ilushyn had just passed right over both the Russian and Syrian air defense radar networks on it’s outbound leg. NO MATTER WHETHER OR NOT THEY USED THE SAME IFF, BOTH HAD IDENTIFIED THE AIRPLANE AS RUSSIAN AND BOTH WERE TRACKING IT AS A FRIENDLY. And it would continue to show up on their fire control radars as a friendly until it landed. So it was not possible for the Syrians to have shot the Ilushyn down through IFF confusion.
The graphic shows that the F-16s waited until the Russian plane was between them and the Syrian air defense systems before they turned and fired. But even then the Syrians could identify the Russian plane and knew where it was. They didn’t shoot. However, at that moment, an Israeli F-16 turned inbound and flew close to the Ilushyn. It deployed electronic countermeasures to spoof the Syrian fire control systems. Airborne ECM systems typically (at least all the ones I have used) either overpower the radar and cause it to see nothing but static – usually a screen bloom – or create dozens of false targets which look like inbound targets. That is what happened. There were so many targets apparently inbound that the Ilushyn was lost in the clutter. The Syrians probably thought it had been shot down and so they did what they were trained to do and fired. The F-16 departed and the L-20 was knocked down. It was intentional on the part of Israel. It was a warning that Khmeimim would be next. And the message wasn’t lost on anyone.
Interestingly, no mention at all was made regarding the French frigate firing missiles. It was probably shooting at Syrian missiles which were attacking the imaginary targets the Israels presented but missed (because the targets didn’t exist) and continued toward the frigate. That is merely a guess. I won’t hazard that it was part of Israel’s plan, but I personally think it was. I am very curious how that French ship happened to be in that place at that time. No one has explained what happened and no one probably ever will. But I’ll bet the frigate isn’t sitting there anymore and I am absolutely sure the Russians corrected the fire control issues. It was not worth the loss of those 15 Russians but the Russians learned a very valuable lesson: no one can trust Israel. Hopefully they already grasp that they can never trust Erdogan or the US.
Still, the Russians really can’t retaliate against Israel for what a Syrian missile did. Because of that, they have lost a lot of respect in the world but, more importantly, within their own military who now feel like they are disposable.